The Lawrence University Baseball team got off to a slow start to the 2003 season on their annual spring break trip to Florida. Last year the Vikings set a record for their best start, going 5-7 on the trip. They could not equal those numbers this season, and the Vikings came away with a 1-8 record.The team’s hopes for an MWC crown have not diminished, though. They have a tough conference foe in Ripon, who has owned the Vikings over the past few years.
The Vikings have a lineup that features some of the MWC’s best. Seniors Jeremy Tollefson, Mike Hart, and Ryan Zutter, and junior Chad Zutter lead the team. All four of them were named to the second All-MWC team last season, along with graduated catcher Jason Shanda.
Tollefson is an all-region shortstop who hit .351 for the Vikings last year. The only player to beat that average who hasn’t graduated is Hart, who hit .361. Tollefson also led the team in home runs with three, a number Viking fans hope to see increase this season.
On the mound, the Vikings also return a lot of talent. Justin Anthony, the senior ace for the Vikings, got off to a bit of a slow start last season, but is poised and ready this spring.
The Vikings also have sophomore Anthony Kouba, who as a freshman last season led the Vikings in wins and innings pitched. With a freshman class that features Aaron Sorenson and Kurt Ritschard, the Vikings may have some of the best pitching in the MWC.
If the Vikings can keep up the offensive production despite the loss of Shanda, and if Anthony and the rest of the pitching staff can find their groove, there is no reason why these Vikings shouldn’t compete for the top of the Northern Division of the MWC. Ripon and St. Norbert won’t be easy opponents, but the Vikings have a good shot.
The Vikings open their home season tomorrow at Whiting Field. They will host Beloit at 12:30 p.m.