The Challenge of Baseball in the Lake Conference

Fighting the Sun

In Minnesota, the premier athletic conference in all of high school sports is by far and away the Lake Conference.  Pick any high school sport and it’s likely that a Lake Conference team has won the state championship within the past 3 years.

That has been the case in baseball as well with teams from Apple Valley, Lakeville and Eden Prairie winning it all within the past 5 years.  Last year the Conference sent 3 teams to the state championship.  2008 saw a bumper crop of talent come from the Lake as almost every team produced college bound baseball players.  Chaska turned out the state’s player of the year, Brad Hand, who skipped college to go straight to the Florida Marlins system after being drafted by Major League Baseball in the 2nd round.

While some consider the talent to be down this year, here’s an example of the challenge faced by being a Lake team using my hometown Rosemount nine –

Game 1 – Eastview – starting pitcher Nick Dolsky, a D1 recruit going to Arizona.  4 pro scouts were in the stands.

Game 2 – Eagan – starting pitcher Charlie Weinberg, a D1 recruit going to Illinois-Chicago

Game 3 – Burnsville – starting pitcher Grant Larson, a D2 recruit going to Augustana who was relieved by Jack Lassonde, a D2 recruit going to Minnesota Duluth

Game 5 – Chaska – starting pitcher Shawn Riesgraf, a D1/D2 recruit

Game 6 – Eden Prairie – almost certain to face Tim Bado, their #1 pitcher

Speaking of Chaska’s Shawn Riesgraf, it was interesting to see his recruitment unfold as St. Cloud State’s pitching coach (Pete Pratt), Minnesota State’s head coach (Matt Majers) and D1 recruiters from NDSU and UND were in attendance.  Riesgraf got a 4-1 complete game win, giving up 6 hits and no earned runs.  He threw around 83 on the UND/NDSU guns.  I’m guessing there’s a decent chance he ends up in the Northern Sun next year as at least 1 of the D1 recruiters didn’t seem that interested.

My thanks to coach Pratt and Majers who took a little time to chat – it was good to meet the people in person I’m writing about.

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