Yellowjackets baseball wants more consistency

It’s been more of an up-and-down season than Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets baseball coach Steve Hucke would like. The team is 12-12 on the season, including a trip down south to play against some very good competition.

The early season strength of the Yellowjackets has been pitching. The batting order is still looking for a little more consistency, but Hucke said they’ve got the talent to hit the ball well. They’ve also been bitten by the injury bug.

Yellowjackets baseball

RCTC baseball coach Steve Hucke says he’s looking for more consistency from the Yellowjackets, who are 12-12 on the season going into their next action on Thursday, April 13, with a home doubleheader at 2 and 4:00. (article from wn.news.com)

“Our record says we’re .500 and that’s kind of how we’ve been playing,” Hucke said. “We’ll come out one day and play really tough and look really good. For some reason, we’ll come back and I don’t know if we’re satisfied with that or what. I’m happy with the wins but I’m not satisfied with being .500 because I think we’re a better team than that.”

The Yellowjackets baseball team had a  big question mark coming into the season, which was pitching. The team had to replace some good arms from last season but they’ve had some good kids step up and fill some of those roles. He says the unfortunate thing is the batters can’t seem to generate consistent run support.

 

 

“Our relief pitchers have come in and they understand their role that they’re supposed to fill when they enter the game,” Hucke said. “It’s been fun to see them come in and hold leads or get saves, and to pitch well enough for us to have a chance to come back and get a win.”

The first bullpen breakdown of the season didn’t happen until last Sunday when a normally reliable reliever came in, left a pitch up, and gave up three runs to Dakota County Technical College in the seventh inning. However, the Jackets did come back and win the game 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a walk-off base hit.

As he looks up and down the batting lineup, Hucke feels the team has a lot of potential to do some damage at the plate. The biggest challenge right now is the Yellowjackets baseball team is struggling with injuries.

 

 

“We’ve got the sticks to do it,” Hucke said, “we just need our approach at the plate to be a little more consistent and in tune with what we’re trying to do. We’re getting there.”

The team is getting much better defensively after what Hucke called a very rocky start to the season. He said the team likely has more errors to start a season than they’ve had in the last few years. A lot of it may have to do with spending most of their time inside the bubble over the football field working out to suddenly finding themselves outside in the middle of competition, switching from AstroTurf to natural grass.

“You get used to attacking the ball a little bit differently now that you’re on grass versus staying back and waiting for it to get to you on turf,” Hucke said. “We’re making some great plays in the outfield. Our outfielders have been phenomenal and we’re getting there around the infield so I think we’ll be okay.”

The team is coming off a Sunday afternoon split against Dakota County Technical College, dropping the first game 4-0 before coming back in dramatic fashion in the second game, winning 4-3. Hucke said the conference schedule is going to be as competitive as ever this spring.

“Our conference is pretty competitive and very talented,” he said. “We’ve also played one of our toughest non-conference schedules in recent years. We played a lot of tough teams on our spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, including a lot of Division 1 and Division 2 teams (scholarship programs). We came out of there at .500 against good teams so I can’t complain too much about that.”

Hucke said the trips down south give the team a chance to get to know each other. It’s important to find out who gets along with who and the team gets to find out about each other.

“Now, they’re forced to be together every day on a bus, in the condominiums where we stay, and out on the diamond,” Hucke said. “They’ll find out what the team is made of after a trip like that.”

The Yellowjackets baseball team is back in action on Thursday, April 13, with a home doubleheader against the St. Mary’s JV squad at 2 and 4:00. They’ll hit the road for a Friday conference doubleheader at St. Cloud Tech with games scheduled for 1 and 3:00.

 

Vikings Injuries: Fusco practicing, Diggs out

Vikings guard Brandon Fusco returned to practice Monday, his first since suffering a concussion Oct. 9 against Houston. Fusco was lost for the game on the first series against the Texans. Minnesota was back at practice on Monday following a bye week.

Vikings

Vikings center Joe Berger, left, and guard Brandon Fusco defending their quarterback, in the fourth quarter, as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 23-20 at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Sitting out Monday were wide receivers Stefon Diggs (hamstring) and Jarius Wright (undisclosed), and tight end MyCole Pruitt, who suffered a knee injury against the Texans. Diggs sat out against Houston and hasn’t practiced since playing in an Oct. 3 game against the New York Giants.

The Vikings’ most recent practice was Tuesday. Also returning after missing that workout:  linebacker Anthony Barr (undisclosed) and tight end Rhett Ellison, who missed the game against Houston with a knee injury.

Practice squad guard Isame Faciane did not practice. He was arrested last Wednesday in St. Louis Park on suspicion of drunken driving.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was eligible to practice Monday after being placed on the reserve non-football injury list Sept. 3. Heinicke did not participate, but a source said Heinicke is “100 percent” and expected to practice on Wednesday.

Heinicke suffered a torn tendon in his left foot in July, the result, he said, of his foot going through a window when he was locked out of his home in Atlanta. When Heinicke returns, the Vikings will have 21 days to decide whether to place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on the non-football injury list.

Wednesday will be a heavier practice day, and if Heinicke goes then, it would give the Vikings perhaps a heavier additional day of practice at the end to make a decision. The source expects Minnesota, which has quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill on the active roster, and Joel Stave on the practice squad, to take the full 21 days to make a decision unless there is an injury.

Story found in the St. Paul Pioneer Press