Pine River baseball players put together strong season

LEROY — Pine River’s baseball players have gone from the spring baseball season to the summer with hopes of gearing up for what could be a strong 2013 performance.

The Bucks are coming off a strong 2012 campaign which included a district championship. Players that had a role in that success included sophomores Grant Gugle and Brandon Hoaglund and junior Tyler Lewis.

It’s Gugle’s first year on the varsity.

“The practices are a lot more intense,” he said. “You learn a lot more than you did on the JVs. It’s just better focused.”

Gugle usually played third base and second base. You can’t be afraid to get hit by the ball. You have to stop it all costs.

“After midseason is when we started hitting the ball,” he said.

His hitting improved but then Gugle suffered with mono for a few weeks. He returned just before districts.

“It’s been our intense practices,” Gugle said. “Lincoln (Erickson) and Devin (Ruppert) have been carrying us with the pitching. Devin’s a good catcher. He’s been stopping the ball.”

Hoaglund has been another key sophomore for the Bucks.

“At the beginning of the year, I felt I was behind a little bit,” he said. “Once I got to midseason, I was right back up with the varsity.”

Hoaglund played mostly center field.

“I’ve had a pretty good season” he said. “I have the speed that others don’t have to get to the ball.”

Hoaglund has made some diving catches this year and added that offensively, he was doing well. Late in the season, he was battling a slump but felt he was coming out of it.

“It was a matter of confidence, thinking that you’re going to hit the ball when you’re up there,” Hoaglund said, “and not thinking only that you can’t strike out.”

Lewis has been in his first full year of baseball at third base with some pitching.

“I’ve gotten better,” he said. “The batting was a little slow and is coming around a little better toward the end.”

At the hot corner, “I’ve been playing pretty good over there actually,” he said. “I pretty much knock it down.”

When he’s had the chance to pitch, Lewis has been content with his performance.

All three have enjoyed playing on a district winning team.

“We had intense practices,” Hoaglund said. “We were hitting the ball a lot to where we’ve been hitting it good. The coaches have helped us a lot.”