Pine River duo ready for final season

READY: Devin Ruppert warms up his arm during a Pine River baseball practice. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)
READY: Devin Ruppert warms up his arm during a Pine River baseball practice. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

LEROY — Lincoln Erickson and Devin Ruppert are both coming off highly successful seasons for a championship Pine River basketball season.

They’re both hoping to have similar success for a title contending team during the baseball season.

They’re the two top pitchers for the Bucks.

Erickson is in his third varsity season and will pitch and play first base.

Last year’s highlight was winning the district championship and almost beating perennial power Beal City, Erickson said.

Erickson is looking for his best pitching season. He’s looking to throw faster this season, perhaps in the low 90s.

“I’ve been working on an off-speed pitch too so I just don’t have a curveball and a fastball,” Erickson said.

Erickson said he worked on batting a lot during the offseason.

“I went to hitting camps and got a lot of personal hitting and training,” he said. “I put a lot of hours into it.”

Ruppert is in his fourth varsity season.

Winning districts was a highlight from a year ago.

“We had one of our worst records in awhile but we played a lot of good competition,” he said. “When you play good teams at the beginning of the season, it makes you ready come tournament time. We didn’t play well in our regional game.”

Ruppert recently signed to play baseball at Muskegon Community College as a catcher. He’s ready for one more season behind the plate with the Bucks.

“Lincoln throws well so it’s easy for me back there,” Ruppert said. “I have a pretty good arm and should be able to throw a lot of people out.”

As a pitcher, Ruppert looks at throwing strikes as his strength.

“I can throw as hard as I can and still have accuracy,” he said.

Ruppert is confident the Bucks can hold their own on offense.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on hitting,” he said. “We didn’t hit the ball as well as we thought we would last year. We want to focus on it this year.”

The Bucks hopes to be one of the area’s top teams.

“Our pitching and our defense are going to be very solid,” Ruppert said.

Beal City has been the league champ in previous seasons.

“We should be able to beat anyone we face if we play well and hit,” Ruppert said.

“We have really good potential this year. Like every year, I think Pine River baseball holds to a standard of winning conference and getting the district and regionals,” Erickson said. “This year is no different. Everyone on our team has been playing together since they were 12.”

The Bucks are scheduled to play Tuesday at Morley Stanwood. Games prior to the spring break were snowed out.