Erickson, Nelson coming in handy for Bucks

LEROY — A recent no-hitter tossed for the Pine River Bucks by junior Lincoln Erickson came at the right time for a team trying to build some momentum toward the later stages of the season.

Erickson and the Bucks have also been thriving on putting together more offense to keep the team in contention.

“When our bats get going, we get more confidence, make plays and don’t make any errors,” Erickson said. “We dropped two at Beal City which brought us down. But the (Pine River) tournament will bring our confidence back up.”

The Bucks were 2-0 to take the tournament title. Pine River hopes to keep taking advantage of Erickson’s various talents including pitching.

“It’s going pretty good but I need to get better,” he said. “Every day you’ve got to get better.”

It’s Erickson’s second season of varsity pitching and he said he’s improved significantly.

“My curveball has gotten a lot better,” he said. “Last year, I couldn’t throw it for a strike. But now, I can throw it for strikes.”

Erickson plays first base when he’s not pitching and provides a good target for other Pine River fielders when they toss the ball to first base.

Erickson and the Bucks have struggled somewhat on their hitting but are looking at improving.

“I think the key is confidence for us. We can all hit the ball well when we’re confident,” he said.

Beal City, the 2009 and 2010 state champions, have been dominating the Highland Conference.

“Right now, our goal is second in the conference,” Erickson said. “At the end of the season, we hope to go very far in the tournament.”

The key to meet those goals is confidence, and according to Erickson, “we’re getting there.”

Meanwhile, hitting remains a key aspect behind Pine River’s bid for a strong baseball postseason as far as sophomore Skyler Nelson is concerned.

Nelson, in his second varsity season, is playing catcher and shortstop for the Bucks.

“I’ve improved from last year,” he said, adding that as catcher, “I usually keep the ball in front of me.”

Nelson has also been happy with his defensive play at shortstop. Offensively, he’s looking to get back into top-notch hitting form.

“I was hitting the ball in the beginning and then I was not hitting that well,” he said. “But I’ll get it back. Every hitter goes through slumps. You just have to keep trying hard and go through the fundamentals more.”

The Bucks are approaching the end of the regular season and getting ready for the playoffs.

“We’ve been playing pretty good as a whole with a couple of slipups here and there, but pretty good overall,” Nelson said, adding that an upcoming goal is “winning regionals. If we can do that, from there, we can do whatever.”