Feb 8th, 2013 @ 10:06 am | Author: Viking Sports Admin
The Viking's first games of the season are on Sunday at 4:30 PM and Monday at 7:00 AM vs. Clarke University (IA) in the Metro-Dome in Minneapolis MN. Both days are scheduled for two seven inning games.

VCSU Preview:
Overall the Vikings return two starters in the outfield two in the infield and two at catcher. On the mound VCSU brings back three of the top four pitchers in terms of innings pitched and starts.

Pitching Staff:
The leaders on the pitching staff last season were Ronnie Blagg (Sr, La Puente, CA) and Ryan Shaw (Sr, Cardale, MB). Blagg was 2nd in the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) in ERA and first in walks allowed (8) in 62.1 innings pitched. Shaw lead the Vikings in wins (5) and strikeouts (52). The weekend rotation will be filled out by Derek Zitzow (Sr, Valley City, ND), with newcomers Corey Pudas (Fr, Menahga, MN), Bryce Venaas (Jr, Fargo, ND) and Chad Lekiw (Jr, Selkirk, MB) battling for the fourth spot in the rotation.

Coming into the season Josiah Churchill (Sr, Winnipeg, MB) and Dan Buehner (Jr, Blaine, MN) are slotted to split time behind the plate. Churchill started 26 games at catcher a season ago while Buehner was limited due to a shoulder injury. Casey Clark (Sr, Plant City, FL) and Conner Blackburn (So, Lake Havasu, AZ) also saw time at catcher in 2012 and bring the Vikings depth and experience at the position.

The Vikings return two starters in the infield with Brenden Shearer (Sr, Winnipeg, MB) and Colin Waldner (Sr, Altona, MB) coming back from strong junior campaigns. Shearer is slated to be the everyday 1st baseman while Waldner makes the transition from 3rd to 2nd base in 2013. At shortstop Joey Demers (Fr, Grafton, ND) will be the opening day starter. Cliff Vazquez (Sr, Tucson, AZ) will be the utility man backing up both middle infield spots. At third base Anthony Myer (Jr, Fargo, ND) and Thomas Houdek (Fr, Grafton, ND) will both see time early in the season.

Preston Jensen (Sr, Valley City, ND) and Scott Stephenson (Sr, Ontario, CA) return as starters from the 2012 lineup. Stephenson will start in center while Jensen will move from right field to left for his senior season. Filling out the outfield is Mike Gershman (So, Beausejour, MB). Gershman started 25 games for the Vikings in 2012 splitting time between, 3rd base, outfield, and DH, but moves to the outfield full time for 2013. The role of 4th and 5th outfielder is an open competition between Cliff Vazquez, Conner Blackburn, Casey Gardner (Jr, Williston, ND), Kayl Hamre (Jr, Leonard, ND) and Robert Wiley (Jr, Covina, CA).

There are several options at Designated hitter for the Vikings in 2013. Casey Clark, Cole Honl (Jr, Moorhead, MN), and Brady Anderson (Fr, Jamestown, ND) are the leading candidates entering the season.

Top Returners:
Scott Stephenson ö SR ö 5-9 ö 180 ö OF ö Ontario,CA
Preston Jensen ö SR ö 6-0 ö 180 ö OF ö Valley City, ND
Mike Gershman ö SO ö 6-1 ö 175 ö OF ö Beausejour, MB
Brenden Shearer ö SR ö 6-0 ö 215 ö INF ö Winnipeg, MB
Colin Waldner ö SR ö 5-7 ö 170 ö INF ö Altona, MB
Ronnie Blagg ö SR ö 6-0 ö 190 ö RHP ö La Puente, CA
Ryan Shaw ö SR ö 6-2 ö 220 ö RHP ö Cardale, MB

Top Newcomers:
Chad Leskiw ö JR ö 5-10 ö 180 ö LHP ö Selrkirk, MB
Joey Demers ö FR ö 6-0 ö 175 ö INF ö Grafton, ND
Bryce Venaas ö JR ö 5-10 ö 155 ö RHP ö Fargo, ND
Corey Pudas ö FR ö 6-0 ö 165 ö RHP ö Menahga, MN
Cole Honl ö JR ö 6-3 ö 230 ö DH/RHP ö Moorhead, MN
Thomas Houdek ö FR ö 6-3 ö 255 ö INF ö Grafton, ND
Brady Anderson ö FR ö 5-11 ö 170 ö UTL ö Jamestown, ND
Anthony Myer ö JR ö 5-9 ö 185 ö INF ö Fargo, ND

Clarke University:
Clarke is coached by Dan Spain who is in his second season as the head coach. In 2012 the Crusaders finished 11-31 and in 9th place in the Midwest Collegiate Conference. They return most of their top offensive contributors including Nico Piscopo, Caleb Johnson, and Nick Woltkamp. On the mound two of the top four pitchers are back from 2012 with seniors Seth Wieman and Matt Lozano coming back in 2013.