Big Nine baseball race is wide open

Published 12:55 pm Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aaron Klatt, above, posted a 2.32 ERA last season and will return as the Albert Lea baseball team’s top pitcher. -- Tribune file photo

Up to 6 teams could compete for conference title

The Big Nine baseball race is wide open this season, according to Albert Lea coach Joe Sczublewski.

After placing second in the Big Nine Conference last season, the Tigers enter the year having lost three key players to graduation and one to injury. Starters Jordan Mondeel, Luke Grossman and Colby Stilaeff all graduated in 2010 and starting shortstop Carter Kortan tore his ACL during the wrestling season.

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The Tigers do return their top pitcher from last season, Aaron Klatt, who was named Tribune Player of the Year after posting a 2.32 ERA on the mound and .387 batting average.

The Tigers also return All-Conference catcher Conner Kortan and honorable mention pitcher and centerfielder Cole Sorenson.

Sczublewski said Rochester Century, John Marshall and Mayo all return several key players as do Mankato East and West. He said Big Nine defending champion Owatonna graduated a stellar senior class but has their top two pitchers returning this season.

Looking back

2010 Big Nine baseball standings

Conf. Overall

1. Owatonna 14-4 17-8

2. Albert Lea 12-6 14-8

3. Rochester Mayo 11-7 18-10

4. Mankato West 11-7 14-9

5. Rochester J.M. 10-8 10-11

6. Mankato East 8-10 15-14

7. Roch. Century 8-10 9-12

8. Winona 7-11 11-13

9. Faribault 6-12 6-13

10. Austin 3-15 4-17