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2014 Spring Preview: New Life Academy baseball team should vie for conference, section titles

Under the guidance of second-year head coach Dave Darr, the New Life Academy baseball team returns all but one player from last year’s squad, which went 14-6 overall and had a nice playoff run.

“We hit well, and I think we will continue to do so,” Darr said. “We have some pitching depth, provided everyone stays healthy. As long as we continue to do the work we need to do to improve, I think we have a good chance at competing for a conference championship again this year, and if we do that, that will set us up nicely heading into the section tournament.”

Last year New Life Academy went 7-2 to finish in second place in the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association behind 9-0 West Lutheran. The Eagles’ season was highlighted by nine-game win streak in May. NLA played five playoff games, but had its season ended by St. Agnes 7-3.

“With a relatively younger squad last year a lot of things were new to them, so I hope that year of experiencing playing for a conference title and making a deeper section run will give us some nice confidence heading into this year,” Darr said. “It won’t be new to them this year, so the hope is that we can take a few more steps deeper in the post season along with vying for a conference title.”

New Life returns key players in John Horner, Sam Horner, Sam Mazzon, Alex Busch, Simon Killeen, Derek Wu and Thomas Becken this season. Mazzon, a senior outfielder, John Horner, a senior shortstop, and Sam Horner, a junior infielder, will act as the team captains.

The team also welcomes back sophomore outfielder Thomas Gunderson, who was out with injuries last year, and senior infielder Matt Palkovich - a transfer student who had to sit out last season.

“I am excited for this year, mainly because of the type of kids we have,” Darr said. “They make coming to park a joy every day.”

Darr said he expected West Lutheran and Heritage to be among the teams to beat for a conference title and he said he thought St. Agnes and Mayer Lutheran would be among the top teams in Section 4A.

The Eagles will be tested early. Weather and field-conditions permitting, New Life hopes to open the season on Wednesday, April 9, against St. Agnes at Bielenberg. 

—Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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