Baseball is back, and the Chanhassen Storm are coming off one of the strongest performances in program history.
After a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament with a variety of starters back, the Storm hope to make another deep run in the postseason this spring. Head coach Ross VanHauen said the team knows doing so will come with several challenges, but he also believes that if Chanhassen achieves its first goal of “forming a brotherhood” anything is possible.
“We really feel that that’s the path to the greatest success is when you have a team that really supports each other and everybody finds a way to contribute in any role that they have on a team,” VanHauen said.
Chanhassen lost 12 seniors from last season’s roster but continue to have depth and experience on the team, especially in the pitching staff. The Storm return four pitchers who combined to throw for more than 100 innings in 2022, including senior starters Josh Och, Sam Marek and Johnny Checheris. Senior Everrett Foudray came out of the bullpen quite often for Chanhassen last season, but VanHauen said he might be in the starting rotation as well.
“We kind of prided ourselves last year on our pitching and defense, and it’s something that worked out,” VanHauen said. “So we’re going to keep on that tradition this year.”
VanHauen did say he would like to see the offense improve, although the Storm did win 14 games by three runs or more in 2022. Two returning seniors he expects to hit well include senior catcher Mason Lang and senior outfielder Carson Pollman.
VanHauen added that one of the constant themes at the beginning of each season is seeing if productive junior varsity players from a season ago can step up and produce at a similar level on varsity. Some members of the junior varsity the coach expects to step up this year include senior Mitchell Fix and junior Sam Macy. Seniors Grant Peltier and Ryan Schutter both also catch and are expected to help in the infield and on the mound, respectively.
Chanhassen reached the state tournament after being the No. 3 seed in the section 2AAAA tournament. The Storm not only won the section crown but also hosted the championship games against Shakopee. While Chanhassen was one example of parity in the section, VanHauen said he expects the field to be just as competitive top to bottom as it was last year.
“We arguably play in the toughest section in the state,” VanHauen said. “There’s a couple other ones out there that are talented, too. But we would think that ours is very competitive from year-to-year and has produced some teams that have done well at state.”
VanHauen also added that Chanhassen will need to play its best baseball at the end of the season if it wants to reach the state tournament for a second consecutive season. The Storm averaged seven runs while allowing an average of about two runs in their eight postseason games.
The Storm open their season April 13 at Eastview and play their home opener April 14 against Hopkins. The section 2AAAA tournament begins May 29 and the Class 4A tournament is set to follow June 13.