Archive | April, 2012

Saint Agnes’ championship run rooted in humility and talent

Saint Agnes’ championship run rooted in humility and talent

Posted on 16 April 2012 by robwas66


Saint Agnes baseball coach Mike Streitz had a difficult call to make when the Lions All-Star committee contacted him to choose between two of his nominated players for a roster spot.

Seniors Charlie Turch and Mitch Kippenberg each played vital roles for the Saint Agnes Aggies in their recent Class A state championship run. Streitz had informed both that he had nominated them to the Lions All-Star game.

“I couldn’t pick one or the other because each has their own separate values to the team,” Streitz said.

Knippenberg had called him later that evening, which he often did prior to games. Streitz informed him of the situation with the Lions All-Stars and that probably neither will get on the team.

Knippenberg texted Streitz following the conversation, “pick Charlie.”

“Charlie would have done the same thing,” Streitz said. “They’re just a very humble group.”

The Aggies (23-6) used their humble, team-first approach to put together a championship season. They capped it off with a 6-0 victory over Lac Qui Parle Valley on June 18 at Target Field.

Saint Agnes, a K-12 Catholic school located in Frogtown, not only won their first baseball state title since 2001. They did so by knocking out the top two teams in the state and winning the state title without a single opponent reaching home plate.

“I can’t thank our pitchers enough,” Aggies senior first baseman Evan Morehead said. “They did an outstanding job of hitting their spots and getting ahead in the count. Our defense was solid behind our pitchers. We fed off that to get our offense going. To not give up a single run meant that our team was clicking on all cylinders, and when that happens I believe we are hard to beat.”

Jack Fossand, a sophomore pitcher, pitched shut outs in two of the Aggies’ three games at state. He helped the Aggies hold off previously undefeated and No. 2- ranked New York Mills 1-0 in the quarterfinals with 12 strikeouts.

“I want to throw a no-hitter, that’s my mindset,” Fossand said.

Streitz also implemented a new play, stealing home base while the pitcher stood on the rubber, for his team prior to the game. Aggies designated hitter Joe McDonald executed the play in the fourth inning for the lone run of the game. “We got in a situation to use it and it ended up working perfectly,” Knippenberg said. “The pitcher stepped off the mound and ended up balking.”

The Aggies won their semifinal game with much more breathing room in a 7-0 drubbing of Blackduck. They also jumped on the Lac Qui Parle Valley Eagles early in the title game with three runs in the first inning on three fielding errors. The Aggies never looked back and piled on three more runs for the victory.

“Once we jumped up to that 3-0 mark, we could exhale and just play our game,” Morehead said. “Like I told our guys, all we have to do now is win every inning and do the little things and avoid big innings.”

The Aggies added to their storied baseball history. The team had been back to state a couple times in the past decade since the 2001 title, but came up short. The school also nearly closed six years ago.

“This state championship was extremely important to our Saint Agnes Community,” Streitz said. “We nearly closed in 2006, we are financially stable now and thriving. But it is no secret that our athletics have been down a bit due to remaining in the Tri-Metro Conference where we are the smallest school. This team showed everyone that we can win consistently when the coaching staff and players strive towards a common goal.”

A tough regular season schedule helped prepare the Aggies for teams such as West Lutheran in postseason play. The Warriors had been ranked No. 1 in Minnesota Class A and were recognized in the ESPN High School Magazine. The Aggies took two of three games against the Warriors to advance to state.

“We had a lot of composure,” Fossand said.

Four of the six graduating seniors will play college baseball. In addition, Fossand, Turch and Morehead made the All-Tournament team.

Turch also earned Class A Player of the Year honors and All- State honors. He and Knippenberg, also an all-state award winner, represented the Aggies at the Lions All-Star game.

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