The race for the South Suburban Conference baseball title is taking on a much different look this season.
The conference, in only its fifth year of existence, has only had two champions — Lakeville North and Burnsville. Neither team lost more than three conference games during their championship seasons.
Halfway through conference play this spring, all but one team had at least three conference losses. Apple Valley holds down the top spot with a 8-2 mark.
“The conference, after one time through the schedule, seems to be very balanced,” Lakeville North coach Tony Market said. “The additions of Shakopee and Farmington [from the defunct Missota Conference] to the mix have only made it that more close as they each have quality teams this year.”
When Lakeville North won the title in 2013 and ’14, it lost three games in each season. When Burnsville won the crown in 2011 and 2012, it finished with an identical 15-2 mark.
“The race is probably tight because the teams that we have faced on each given day are able to pitch and play defense,” Market said. “If you can pitch and play defense early in the Minnesota spring season, you’re going to be in every game. I would expect that with the warmer weather the offenses will heat up.”
Apple Valley’s seven remaining conference games are against the schools that are currently in second through eighth place in the 10-team league.
“I would expect a good race all the way through to the end as teams settle into their lineups and pitching rotations,” Market said.
Changing faces, places
Lakeville North and Prior Lake will have new activities directors at the conclusion of the school year.
Current Lakeville North activities director Russ Reetz resigned to take the same position at Prior Lake. He will replace Lakers activities director Eric Rodine, who resigned.
Reetz will be replaced by current North Branch activities director Brett Carlson. He started his teaching career in 2001 at Apple Valley.
• Lakeville South senior Max Redetzke fired a 3-under-par 69 to share boys’ medalist honors in the East Ridge Invitational at Stone Ridge Golf Course in Stillwater. He will continue his golfing career at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn.
• Prior Lake junior pitcher Angela McBeain threw a no-hitter, leading the Lakers to a 1-0 victory over Farmington in South Suburban Conference softball. She struck out two and walked none. McBeain is 5-1 on the season with a 1.11 ERA.