Spring Grove Lions fall sports teams ready

Boy, it’s hard to believe that fall sports are right around the corner. What happened to summer? The first official day of fall practice for high school sports is August 14. I’m already talking to southeast Minnesota coaches about doing previews of their teams for our newspapers and online at bluffcountrynews.com. My first stop this fall is a visit with the Spring Grove Lions’ coaching staff.

For those who don’t follow southeast Minnesota sports on a regular basis, the Spring Grove high school sports teams are generally very good year after year. The football and volleyball teams recently returned from their last summer camps of the year. I talked with volleyball coach Kelsey Morken and football coach Zach Hauser.

Spring Grove Lions

The Spring Grove Lions, shown here in action from last season, are readying for fall practice, which officially starts on August 14.

The volleyball team had a very good season last year, going 17-12 overall and 10-4 in the Southeast Conference, finishing at second in the East Division. The Lion girls bring back a lot of experience from last year’s squad. The Spring Grove football team went 9-2 last year, 7-1 in the 9 Man, District 1, East Sub-District football standings.

The football team went to its summer camp without its number one quarterback, Alex Folz, who was out with a biceps injury. But, don’t worry Lions fans. He’ll be okay come fall practice. Here’s the conversations with both coaches on the chadsmithmedia.com podcast.

MN high school baseball adopts pitch count

The pitch count is making its first official appearance in the Minnesota high school baseball season this spring. New rules have officially gone into effect that will limit the number of pitches high schoolers can throw during a given time period.

Of course, the goal is to protect the health of young arms. The total amount of pitches thrown in what is now a tiered system will dictate how much subsequent time they aren’t allowed to take the mound again. The new system also means a whole lot more paperwork for head coaches and a system of punishments if the new system is not followed.

Pitch count

Spring Grove baseball coach Chris Strinmoen, pictured here, is one of many high school baseball coaches that have to contend with all-new pitch count rules in effect this season, designed to help pitchers keep their arms healthier. (Photo from Bluff Country News Group)

“It started as a nationwide push to create pitch count policies,” said Spring Grove baseball coach Chris Strinmoen, “to protect the arms of all the youth. The Minnesota State High School League has adopted a policy that’s similar to other states.”

He said it’s a tiered system. The daily maximum a pitcher can throw is 105 pitches (which would then mean three days’ rest). For 30 pitches or less, kids are eligible to pitch again the next day. However, they can’t pitch more than two days in a row, so if a pitcher throws two days in a row, they sit the next day. Any time a pitcher gets above that 30-pitch total, then he’ll be looking at mandatory days off.

The next tier is 31-50 pitches, which require one day of rest. 51-75 pitches mean two days of rest from pitching. 76-105 pitches require three days off from pitching. If a pitcher does hit that 105-pitch count and they’re in the middle of pitching to a batter, they can finish pitching to that hitter. There’s a similar list in place for JV baseball but the pitch count limits are smaller in number.

“The days off are measured in calendar days,” he said, “and not the next 24 hours after a start. It’s not a new concept for coaches to keep track of pitch counts. Any good coach will be doing that to avoid injuries to his staff. The new system requires that someone be in the dugout with the sole task of keeping track of their pitchers as well as the other teams, just to make sure the other squad isn’t bending the rules.”

Coaches are required to enter pitch counts into the high school league website within 24 hours after the end of each game.

 

Spring Grove football season comes to an end

Spring Grove football

The Spring Grove Lions football team lost to Grand Meadow 47-21 in the State 9-man, Section 1 title game at the RCTC football stadium in Rochester. (photo by Chad Smith)

The Spring Grove Lions came to play in the 9-Man, Section 1 football championship game on Friday night, November 4th, against Grand Meadow, but it took the offense too long to get going. The Superlarks led 20-0 in the first quarter before the teams began trading touchdowns for the rest of the game, which Grand Meadow won 47-21.

Grand Meadow was the number one ranked team in the Minnesota State 9-man poll at the end of the regular season, as well as the number one seed in the section tournament. They hit the ground running (literally) with Christopher Brain racing untouched 65 yards on the first play of the game. While the Superlarks were scoring on the first three drives of the game, number two section seed and number five state-ranked Spring Grove was only managing only a first down on each of its first three possessions.

Offense was hard to come by for the Lions. They did manage 312 yards of total offense against the Superlarks, but Grand Meadow gained 445 yards. Alex Folz had 100 yards rushing (102 yards, one TD) and passing (153 yards, two TDs). Christopher Bain and Zach Myhre were a solid one-two punch out of the GM backfield. Bain ran for 197 yards (20 carries) and Myhre ran for 126 (14 carries).

Spring Grove standout wide receiver Chase Grinde faced double teams from Grand Meadow defenders all night long. The cornerback would be within five yards of the line of scrimmage and a deep safety would be ten yards directly behind him. Despite the constant double teams, Grinde still caught six passes for 86 yards.

Grinde was also very busy defensively. He led the Lions with a career-high 24 tackles. The problem is, when your deep safety is making all the tackles, the offense is doing a very good job of moving the ball. Grinde had the Lions’ only tackle-for-loss.

Spring Grove was shorthanded in the backfield even before the opening kickoff. The Lions’ leading rusher Cullen Patterson (911 yards) was out with an injury. Brock Schuttemeier moved from his tight end spot to running back and found some tough sledding (13 carries, 43 yards).

Despite falling behind early, the Lions never stopped playing hard. The momentum of the game appeared to turn once and for all in Grand Meadow’s favor when the Lions were driving and turned the ball over on downs at the Superlark 11-yard line.

Here are a few highlights from the ballgame:

The Superlarks upped their winning streak to 47 straight games, and the three-time defending state champs will face Edgerton/Ellsworth in the state quarterfinals on Friday, November 11. Kickoff will be at 7:00 at the RCTC campus in Rochester.