June 16, 2005 at 7:56 a.m.
“Levi Jones is a wonderful kid. He’s the kind of every dad hopes his daughter will find and marry someday. He always worked hard and busted his butt. He’s as dependable a defensive player you can possibly get. He’s a perfect team player and does a great job playing anywhere on the field.” Levi plans to go to Minnesota State University in Mankato in September to pursue a business degree.
“Mark Unger has been on my team since second grade. He’s one of those players who makes you a better coach just by having him on your team. Just looking at him, you would think shouldn’t be able to throw the ball as far or hit the ball as well as he can. One umpire earlier this season even said that he was going to check Mark’s bat because he hits the ball so hard for someone his size. But he’s been a great number two hitter for me.” Mark will attend the University of Minnesota at Duluth in the fall to study mechanical engineering.
“Shawn Rancourt is a bad ball hitter. He might let a pitch right down the pipe go by, then chop at one in his eyes and rip it down the line for a hit. He had one of our biggest hits of the year, a bases-clearing double in the subsection game against Duluth East. Mark had 17 RBIs batting from the eight and nine spots this year. Opposing teams sometimes didn’t take him seriously because he batted so far down in the order, and he took advantage of it. He was also a very dependable fielder this year. He loves to play baseball and has a lot of good ball left in him.” Shawn intends to study business at Gustavus Adolphus during the next school year.
“David Olson played a tremendous shortstop for us. He enjoyed every minute of this season. In baseball, they say that you need strength up the middle – catcher, shortstop, second base and center filed – in order to succeed, and David’s strong performance up the middle certainly helped us to succeed. He’s a great bunter and hit better than we expected.” David will be attending Minnesota State University at Moorhead on a basketball scholarship this fall.
“Zander Mueller is a ‘crafty lefty’ with a lot of heart. He hurt his hand at Cambridge just tuning up for the postseason and couldn’t pitch in subsections. But he went out and pitched with a lot of pain and a lot of heart and beat Grand Rapids 4-3 in the second game of the section tournament. If, as the experts say, pitching is 90% of the game, pitchers like Zander are a big part of the reason we succeeded. He won most of his starts and may have set the school record for wins.” After enjoying the summer, Zander plans to attend Anoka-Ramsey Technical College, where he’ll play baseball in the spring.
“Ike Dibble was another player who played through pain. Actually, his shoulder has been bothering him for the past couple of years, and I wasn’t aware of it. I guess sometimes the coach is the last to know. When I needed someone to pitch against St. Francis in the subsection game, he said he could go three innings and actually went six. I was never prouder of a player than I was of Ike that day. That was the last time he was able to pitch for us this season, and he played his role to perfection.” Right now, Ike is leaning toward attending Concordia College in St. Paul to study business.
“Karl Lee plays hard and always played baseball the right way. He played a fantastic third base for us. The St. Francis coach called Karl a “tough little nut.” That same coach said he really enjoyed the conversations he had with Karl at third base during the games. Karl was one of the big reasons for out success. He always does all the little things right.” Karl will be studying Residential Science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis this fall.
“Tony Mansk is a great kid with a great future. He didn’t play a lot, but he was willing to do anything to help the team succeed. Tony takes everything in that you teach him and never complains. He’s really a class act and he will be a great coach for in the future. I’d really like to have him back one more year.” Tony will be going to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida in the fall to study aeronautical engineering.
“Derrick Olson was dominant; he had a great year on the mound for us, throwing four shutouts. I think that may be a conference record. He’s been a big performer for us for three years as a starter and has been one of our better hitters, too. Last year he set the school record for home runs in a season with six.” Derrick still hasn’t decided where he’s going to go to school next year. Three schools have shown interest in him, and he’s definitely going to play baseball next spring.
“Kyle Collins, my son, is solid behind the plate. He’s smart, enthusiastic and has vision – he sees things in the game that others can’t. That probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve been a coach for a long time so he’s been around a lot of baseball. He’s going to play at Winona State next year, and he’s probably looking forward to having a coach other than his old man. Kyle made the Lions All Star team and has been a tremendous catcher for three years. We’ll miss him next year.”
Pat Collins had a few more thoughts about this group. “It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit,” he said, “and that’s exactly the attitude that this group played with. They also enjoyed themselves a lot. One example is that when we were preparing for subsections, I looked out to the outfield during batting practice. There were Ike and Zander dancing to the P.A. music like a couple of goofballs. What that showed me is that the guys enjoy every minute of the season, including practices, and that’s part of the reason they’re so successful. Also, other teams couldn’t pitch around anybody. We had lots of tools to work with – good hitters up and down the lineup.”
Assistant coach Jay Brown added, “I’m really going to miss these guys. I wish we had another year with them around. I love the way they play the game.”
Commenting has been disabled for this item.