The Hazen Astros are no strangers to the state tournament. Last year they hosted the Class B championships, but this year they have to punch their ticket on their own. That gives them even more motivation to get redemption for a season cut a few games short.
“Most of these guys experienced that tournament last year, so I think it will all be in our heads, the 1-2 record from last year,” catcher Isaac Doll said. “We should all be pretty motivated to get there.”
The key is experience. Almost the entire roster is back from last year’s state tournament team. A group of guys who have grown up together on the diamond.
“I trust them,” infielder Hunter Keller said. “I’m usually running out there cheering with them as they catch the ball.”
The Astros believe that chemistry will prove to be a strong point, but they’ll need their veteran players to step up and lead the way.
“Us seniors are definitely going to have a chip on our shoulder going into this year,” Doll said. “I think it will help us kind of stay motivated all year this year.”
“We have some really good leaders too that have been around baseball for a long time, and been underneath myself and my dad for a long time too, so they know what we’re about,” head coach Nate Leintz said.
This year Coach Leintz is all about throwing strikes, something the Astros will need to do consistently to finish the season strong.
“It’s all going to come down to pitching I think this year,” Keller said. “We kind of ran out in the state tournament last year, and I think that’s just our main problem.”
The Astros are adding depth to the rotation with new players. Now they say at least 10 of their 12 players can take the mound.
“If we throw strikes, our infielders we’re going to make plays, and our outfielders are going to make plays,” Keller said. “We’ll be fine.”
The Astros return to the field Wednesday against the Bismarck Capitals.