Norway baseball sets sights on fourth straight district crown

By RON?DEUTER

Sports Editor

NORWAY – Norway’s four seniors aim for a fourth straight district baseball title this spring with a crop of up and coming talent ready to support and contribute to the effort.

With three dates already wiped out, the 2014 season was scheduled to open Monday at Wausaukee, but Mother Nature made other plans.

Norway brings back 11 returning players from last year’s squad. The team has four weeks of practice completed but has yet to get any meaningful time outside. Despite being stuck indoors, head coach Tony Adams says his team shows a wonderful attitude.

“They have been working hard in their preparation,” he said. “While we are behind in our execution, the players have shown some real good chemistry as they compete against each other in practice.”

Adams hopes to get the team on the Norway ball field in the next week or two.

The Knights, a regional finalist last season, have six returning starters among their 11 players back.

Key losses from last season’s 15-6 team included all-state pitcher John Grayvold, Jr. along with Billy Bourg and Dan Vivio. Grayvold, Jr. finished his senior season with a perfect 8-0 record on the mound and a 1.24 ERA. He also posted a .500 batting average and a 1.327 OPS at the plate.

“We have competition at multiple positions, and I look forward to seeing how players separate themselves as the season progresses,” Adams said.

Austin Grayvold, a 2013 MHSBCA Division 4 All-Region pick, Alex Carlson, Jorden Neumann and Nick Pearman represent the Knights senior group. Behind them are four juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.

Eight members of the team have been throwing with assistant coach Mike Maule. Junior Mike Faull brings back experience from pitching in two regional final games. John Edwardsen performed well on the mound as a freshmen. Still, the Knights will be a younger group on the hill than in recent seasons.

“Even though they are still young, we like their experience,” Adams said. “We will see how the pitching staff shakes itself out as we move forward through the schedule. We will be younger, but we have some good young arms and this season will provide good experience for them.”

Adams expects the Knights to be strong again defensively.

“Austin Grayvold, Bryce Grayvold and Kevin Evosevich have stood out so far in practice with their gloves, and our outfield has plenty of strong candidates,” he said.

At the plate, there will plenty of opportunities for guys to step up and earn a spot, according to Adams.

“We will be a work in progress,” he said. “We have to become better at putting the ball in play, attacking the middle of the field, pitch recognition and becoming less robotic on the bases.”

Improving each day is the primary goal for the Knights whenever the season begins.

“We want to earn our seniors a fourth straight district title and get back to regionals,” Adams said. “We have plenty of work to do before we can think about the postseason.”

Alex Carlson, Mike Faull and Austin Grayvold have established themselves as leaders on the Knights’ Unity Leadership Council.

“They have done a nice job of carrying out our value system with the rest of the team,” Adams noted.

Norway was set to play three times this week. A date at Escanaba was canceled Tuesday, and the Knights are scheduled to open at home Friday, April 18, against North Central.

Districts take place at Ironwood May 30. Roster follows:

SENIOR – Austin Grayvold, Alex Carlson, Jorden Neumann, Nick Pearman.

JUNIOR – Garrett Bonetti, Taylor Bonetti, Mike Faull, Jake Rehn.

SOPHOMORE – John Edwardsen, Bryce Grayvold, Bryce Plante.

FRESHMAN – Justin Bal, Cody Carlson, Kevin Evosevich, Caleb Tinkey, Dane VanDenHeuvel.

Head coach – Tony Adams; Assistants – Ron Faull and Mike Maule.