Colonels kick off season tonight

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 31, 2002

The competition doesn’t figure to get any easier for the Albert Lea Colonels.

But they plan on getting better anyway.

The Colonels open the amateur baseball season tonight, facing Blue Earth in a 7:30 non-league game at Hayek Field. Eighth-year manager Bill Trygstad hopes it will be the first of many improved performances for the Colonels, who were 1-22 a year ago.

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&uot;I’m excited about this year,&uot; said Trygstad. &uot;We have 24 guys out, we’ve had good numbers at practice, they’re excited to play. Of the 24, we have 12 or 13 that can pitch, and I think we’re deeper than last year. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do. I think we’ll be better.&uot;

The Southern Minny League could be better than ever. Austin finished second in the state tournament last year, Rochester was third and Waseca eighth. New Ulm, whose roster has included some former major leaguers, has joined this year, along with longtime members Faribault, Owatonna and Mankato.

Players returning from last year for the Colonels are Mike Piechowski, Anthony Lowman, Craig Smith, Brad Carlson, Derek Anderson, Zac Oquist, Matt Trygstad, Brandon Tukua, Ryan Wangen, Brett Damerow, Adam Berge and Matt Felt. Phil Wacholz and Adam Hamberg each played in one game.

Jeff Schulz and James Gonzales are back with the team after an absence of one or more years.

First-year players are David Dahl, Isaac Walton, Nick Niebuhr, Brian Hill, Aric Attig, Brad Eckberg, Justin Kohn and Andrew Greibrok.

Bryan Baggett and Tim Davis are the only players not to return who saw significant playing time last year.

A big change this year is the bats. All amateur teams in Minnesota will use wooden bats, and

Trygstad said it will affect the game and strategy.

&uot;There won’t be as many home runs, but it will help the line drive hitters,&uot; he said.

The Colonels’ 2002 schedule:

Friday, May 31Blue Earth, 7:30

Saturday, June 1Minnesota Lake, 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 6Austin Greyhounds, 7:30

Saturday, June 8at Faribault, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 12at Waseca, 7:30

Friday, June 14at Blue Earth, 7:30

Saturday, June 15at New Ulm, 7:30

Sunday, June 16Austin Merchants, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 19Rochester No. 2, 7:30

Friday, June 21at Northfield, 7:30

Sunday, June 23Owatonna, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 26Rochester Royals, 7:30

Friday, June 28New Richland, 7:30

Sunday, June 30at Mankato, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 3Waseca, 7:30

Sunday, July 7New Ulm, 6 p.m.

Friday, July 12at Minnesota Lake, 7:30

Sunday, July 14Mankato, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 17at Austin Athletics, 7:30

Thursday, July 18at New Richland, 7:30

Sunday, July 21Faribault, 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 25at Austin Greyhounds, 7:30

Saturday, July 27at Owatonna, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 31at Rochester Royals, 7:30