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Dykhoff can put vets on diamond

David Najjar pegs a throw to first base as the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines warm up for their April 8 home opener with Otter Tail Central.

Kyle Dykhoff will continue to build his Wadena-Deer Creek baseball program this spring with the help of a veteran group of upperclassmen.

"We have a strong core with the seniors," Dykhoff said. "They have really shown that they want to win."

The Wolverines will have good pitching and it only remains to be seen if they can avoid giving up that "big inning" to the competition. Last year's club allowed an average of 9.4 runs a game.

"The thing that hurt us last year was the big inning. Defensively, we couldn't get out of the big inning," Dykhoff said.

Senior Kevin Tumberg is back to anchor the staff. Tumberg has been named to the Mid-State All-Conference team two years in a row. The heady veteran will also be playing short or second and hitting in the No. 3 spot.

"I'm looking for more pop out of him this year," Dykhoff said.

Senior outfielder Ryan Nelson led the team in hitting last year after starting the season with the junior varsity. Dykhoff wants to use him in the lead-off spot where he can use his speed for leg hits.

Senior Cody Redfield will be hitting in the clean-up spot and giving the Wolverines some innings on the mound when he is not manning first. Dykhoff likes his stuff on the hill and wants to see him develop his consistency.

Senior backstop Tyler Wohlwend is coming off a knee injury suffered last summer in Legion ball.

Junior Derrick Rude could emerge as WDC's No. 2 or 3 starter on the mound. The versatile player will also see duty in the infield and the outfield.

Junior Colter Pettit has some big shoes to fill at short where the Wolverines lost standout Matt Hagen to graduation. Pettit is also expected to battle Rude for the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

Dykhoff can reach into the sophomore ranks this year and still find players from his 2009 team. Jake Rude can play any spot of the field and is expected to give WDC a good backup at catcher.

Ryan Redfield tore his ACL playing basketball at the beginning of the 2009-10 season and has been working on his recovery. The Wolverines hope to have him back before the end of the season. Redfield is a good hitter who can also pitch and play the infield.

Rounding out the team will be senior Zach Kelderson (third base, outfield), junior Cory Tumberg (first base, outfield), sophomore David Najjar and Kenny Sakry who can pitch as well as playing infield and outfield spots.

Dykhoff does not have to worry about facing good competition. Four of the teams in the conference are ranked in the Top 20 in the state. Staples-Motley is ranked fourth in Class AA and with Jordan Riewer and Gunner Johnson back the Cardinals will be handful for anyone. Defending conference champ Perham, Pequot Lakes and Detroit Lakes also return solid teams.

Dykhoff definitely sees his team in the mix.

"There is no reason we can't win 12-15 games," Dykhoff said.