Baseball preview: Bulldogs hope to reload after a great 2022 season
Paynesville, fresh off a 21-2 record and section runner-up year, must develop a young pitching staff
PAYNESVILLE — Paynesville enters the 2023 season off a strong 2022 campaign, where the Bulldogs finished with a 21-2 overall record and 14-0 Central Minnesota Conference record.
Paynesville’s pair of losses from last season came against Fairmont in the Section 3AA championship. The Cardinals went on to capture their first Class AA state title.
With question marks around its pitching staff, Paynesville is hoping its young pitchers develop well by the postseason.
The Bulldogs will be without their ace in senior pitcher Eli Nelson, who suffered a torn ACL during basketball season, and will miss the entire season. He held a 6-1 record on the mound and hit .454 at the plate.
“We will really miss Eli,” Paynesville head coach Brad Skoglund said. “We have only three wins returning from our pitching staff. We have some good young pitchers, but will they get outs at the varsity level is a huge question mark.
“I think we may take some lumps early as our pitching will need time to develop. But I think we could be a decent team around tournament time.”
Paynesville’s pitching staff this season includes juniors Bryce VanderBeek, Josiah Utsch and Brandon Carlson.
The Bulldogs’ top returner in 2023 is senior shortstop Grayson Fuchs. He batted .446 last season and plans to continue his baseball career at St. Cloud State University.
Other returnees include: seniors Max Athmann (outfield/catcher/second base), Austin Pauls (center field) and Spencer Eisenbraun (third base), and junior Isaac Lieser (catcher).
April 6 vs. Morris/CA, 4:30 p.m.
April 10 at NLS, 4:30 p.m.
April 14 vs. St. Cloud Cathedral, 4:30 p.m.
April 17 at ACGC, 4:30 p.m.
April 20 vs. Holdingford (DH), 4 p.m.
April 25 vs. BBE, 4:30 p.m.
April 27 at Royalton (DH), 4 p.m.
May 1 at Eden Valley-Watkins, 4:30 p.m.
May 4 vs. Maple Lake (DH), noon at St. Cloud
May 5 vs. Montevideo, 6:30 p.m.
May 8 vs. ACGC, 4:30 p.m.
May 11 at Kimball (DH), 4 p.m.
May 15 at BBE, 4:30 p.m.
May 18 vs. Eden Valley-Watkins, 4:30 p.m.
May 19 vs. Minnewaska, 4:30 p.m.