The 2022 baseball season did not go as Holy Family might have wanted it based on wins and losses, but head coach Bryan DeLorenzo is optimistic 2023 could be different.
After losing only two seniors to graduation and returning key players to the roster, the Fire hope to contend in the Wright County East Conference in the regular season and the section 5AA championship in the postseason. Additionally, the team has a strong bond that DeLorenzo sees as important to reaching its goals.
“It was easier to go through that season than you’d think because the kids were all supportive of each other and we bonded and mesh really well as a team in our program,” DeLorenzo said. “I’m looking forward to that again this year.”
DeLorenzo believes Holy Family will be much more competitive in Wright County East Conference play and can also be a contender for the section 5AA championship. The Fire finished last season with a 7-14 overall record and a 1-9 conference record.
In the process, players gained plenty of experience from 2022, according to DeLorenzo, and he could see that translating to a better spring in 2023.
“[The players] won’t put as much pressure on themselves since they have a year under their belt as varsity players,” DeLorenzo said. “So they’ll just be able to focus more on getting better and improving from last season.”
The Fire are 2-1 early in the season and have two key contributors returning to the mound. Juniors Jameson Quinn and Ryan Poppitz are expected to be the team’s top two starters in the rotation, and DeLorenzo said those two can be key contributors at the plate as well.
Other players who look to be contributors are junior Andrew Athmann and senior Paul Dorr. Athmann returns to the lineup after starting as a utility player and pitcher in 2022 and will be relied on again for not only his defense but also coming in as a reliever on the mound, and Dorr will be looking to contribute in the starting pitching rotation.
In order to compete for both a conference and section championship, Holy Family will rely on its pitching and defense. DeLorenzo said the team will have many different lineups based on who they have starting on the mound, and the coach is happy with the depth in the defensive lineup given how many athletes can play different positions.
However, DeLorenzo said Holy Family will need better production at the plate in 2023 if the team is to contend. In 13 of 21 games played last season, the Fire scored three runs or less and had a 3-10 record in those games. He is optimistic about improvement in that area after seeing players in batting practice early in the spring.
Rising toward the top of the Wright County East Conference standings will be challenging as Holy Family finished last a season ago. The Fire will also have to face teams like Hutchinson and Southwest Christian that tied for the best record in the conference at 7-3. The last time Holy Family was near the top of the conference standings was in 2013 when the Fire finished 10-3 in conference play behind only Delano at 10-2.
In section 5AA, Holy Family will face tough opponents like defending champion and current No. 2 in Class 2A Watertown-Mayer, No. 5 Glencoe-Silver Lake and Southwest Christian, which came into the 2022 tournament as the top seed. The Fire reached the section quarterfinals before losing to the Royals and Panthers. Holy Family last won a section championship in 2012 when the Fire also won the state championship.
The section 5AA tournament begins the week of May 29, with the Class 2A state tournament to follow June 13, 14 and 16 with quarterfinals and semifinals at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud and the championship at CHS Field in St. Paul.