New faces expected to fill in for Marshall A’s missing pieces

With a mix of fresh faces and tested veterans, the Marshall A’s amateur baseball team heads into the 2013 season looking to improve on its 29-10 record from a year ago.

“We’re going to have some new faces,” said Marshall manager Sean Culhane. “We’re not going to be a completely different team, but there are going to be some guys that aren’t around this year that have been around for a while.”

Some of the key pieces that won’t be returning include pitcher Brandon Wilhelmi and outfielders Derek West and Kyle Young.

A pair of roster staples, Chase Pollock and Tyler Flattum, are still unsure about their return, Culhane said.

Pollock, who took over as head varsity baseball coach at Marshall High School, is also the VFW/Legion Director for the Marshall Area Youth Baseball Association.

“Maybe something happens throughout the year where we can get their league games in,” Culhane said. “It’s one of those things where I would take them if they were ready to play.”

The A’s return a solid core from 2012, including team MVP Andrew Kinney and eight-game winner Nate Dickhausen. Kinney carried a .419 batting average while driving in 42 runs, and Dickhausen compiled an 8-5 record with a 2.44 ERA.

“Andrew Kinney was a big pick-up coming back. He’s a phenomenal baseball player with a big bat for us,” Culhane said. “Dickhausen is back, taking the bump and throwing some innings for us.”

Offensively, Marshall also returns Jordan Kontz (.394 avg.), Taylor Rignell (.374 avg.), Cody Curry (.328 avg.) and Ben Korger (.301 avg.), along with Tanner Neale, Ryan Engels and Mason Schnaible.

“There is a laundry list of guys I’m happy to have back,” Culhane said.

One area the A’s will need to shore up is pitching. Outside of Dickhausen, there are no sure arms with Zach Olson working through arm trouble.

“That’s going to be the biggest thing,” Culhane said. “That’s where we lost a lot of guys.”

Kontz, Curry and Kroger combined to pitch 67 innings a year ago, but the A’s will potentially need to replace the 128 innings pitched by Wilhelmi, Pollock and Olson.

“We’re going to have to get some stuff because outside of Dickhausen, we’re not sure,” Culhane said. “Zach Olson’s arm is something that is up in the air. He threw some big ballgames for us last year.”

One addition Marshall is making to the pitching staff is Travis McGlauflin, a Sioux City, Iowa, native coming off his freshman season at Southwest Minnesota State University.

McGlauflin pitched 53 1/3 innings for the Mustangs this season, finishing with a 3-4 record.

“In the latter part of the Mustang season he started throwing some big games,” Culhane said.

The A’s are also looking to add some local players to the roster this season with Marshall graduates Matt Campion and Ben Sanders, as well as Russell-Tyler-Ruthton graduate Jason Minett. Minett was a redshirt freshman for the SMSU baseball team this season.

“Ben Sanders and Matt Campion, they are both kind of coming off of injuries,” Culhane said. “Another local guy is Jason Minett. He’s going to come from Tracy and play for us as well. He’s a big pick-up. I like the way he plays the game.

“He’s very talented and he brings that left-handed stick. He’s a guy from the area that people are going to know the last name.”

Another addition is Doug Mead, who spent last season with Pipestone, and there could be more changes to the roster before the season starts.

“We’ll be somewhere between 14 and 15 guys for the summer,” Culhane said. “It’s not too many and it’s not too few. The guys will get their playing time.”

The A’s will start their season Sunday in Hadley at 2 p.m. before playing host to Minneota on Friday to open the home season.

“What I always tell people is that if you haven’t been to Hadley to watch a Sunday afternoon baseball game, come down,” Culhane said. “It’s an entertaining place. It’s fun, it’s a cool place to open up.

“A lot of the people are the same, but we have a lot of new guys. I think we’ll be talented and fun to watch again. As we always say, it’s free to watch.”