Everything came together at the right time for the St. Francis Borgia Regional baseball Knights last spring.
Borgia (23-7) got hot in the Class 4 playoffs, beating Lutheran South, Sikeston, Helias and Westminster Christian to win the school’s first-ever state baseball championship.
“We have the experience of making a great run last season,” Borgia Head Coach Rob Struckhoff said. “We performed at a high level in the biggest games. We should be able to draw a lot of confidence from that experience.”
Struckhoff feels that experience should give his team confidence coming into this season.
While the team graduated many starters, it has several key returners.
Bryce Mayer started at shortstop and was the team’s No. 2 pitcher. He shut down Westminster Christian in the state championship game.
Jack Czeschin was the Class 4 newcomer of the year and will return to his second base position this season.
Brandon Stahlman was the team’s most valuable utility player last season. He started at shortstop or third base, depending upon who was pitching, and also was one of Borgia’s top hurlers.
Cody Tuepker started in left field, but will move to center field this spring.
Wil Heggemann, Joe Perjak and Josh Garbs saw some playing time, but likely will move up to more prominent roles this year. Heggemann is listed at first base. Perjak can catch and play infield. Garbs is a utility player.
Struckhoff said juniors Sam Heggemann, Alonzo MacDonald, Sam Glosemeyer, Gavin Mueller, Brayden Mayer, Tyler Stieffermann, Max Meyers and Caleb Kleekamp will be looking to step into the varsity spots this year.
Outfield is a key area to watch for the Knights this spring. Borgia graduated starters at two of the three positions. With Tuepker moving to the middle, the team has to fill the corner spots. Garbs, MacDonald, Meyers, Glosemeyer and Mueller are the top candidates.
Wil Heggemann, Perjak and Stieffermann are first base candidates. Perjak and Sam Heggemann could share time behind the plate.
Many of the Borgia players played for American Legion teams in Washington and elsewhere last summer.
Overall, 43 players came out and all made the team. The team consists of 15 varsity, 14 JV and 14 C Team players.
Struckhoff is being assisted by Spencer Unnerstall, Andrew Eggert, Jason Grellner, Chuck Subke and Jim Daugherty.
Team goals have been kept simple.
“Get better everyday as a person, teammate, and team,” said Struckhoff. “Make sure we are young men of character, commitment, and grit while having fun playing baseball. If we do this, everything else will take care of itself.”
The team won’t play any games until April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures. If the season can be started, the team will have to complete the mandated number of practices first.