Heading into its third season of cooperative baseball, the Caledonia/Spring Grove squad looks to build on 2011's successes, Warrior head coach Dave Konz said recently.

The Warriors have fared well since their Highway 44 pairing with Spring Grove, finishing in a tie for second place in the conference in 2010 and a third place tie last year. The team also made a good run in post-season play last year, reaching the Section 1AA Tourney as sub-section runner up.

"Our experience will be our strength," Konz said. "We are returning eight letter winners from last season. We are looking to build around that experience."

All of the letter winners are seniors, returning from last year's 15-9 team (13-7 TRC) including two all-conference players. Outfielder Travis Frank batted .400 with 19 RBI while infielder Houston Halverson batted .366 with 18 runs batted in.

Matt Peterson and first baseman Ryan Eppen were infield regulars while Austin Goergen was in right field last spring. Josh Lampert has drawn starting assignments in both the infield and outfield.

Peterson was also part of the always critical pitching rotation, which is also bolstered by letter winners Ryan Frank (.357) and Brandon Vonderohe.

With that kind of senior depth, it's easy to see why Konz is excited about his team's chances. When asked about concerns, he said, "Our weakness this year could be with our pitching depth early on to start the year with senior and returning starter Brandon Vonderohe out due to surgery.

"He was second last year in innings pitched for us. The other pitchers will be asked to shoulder the load early on, such as seniors Ryan Frank and Matt Petersen, until he can come back.

"And we will be looking for some of the newcomers to step in. We will also be asking a few of the returning starters to switch positions to fill the void left by our seniors that graduated last year. Houston Halverson will be asked to move from shortstop to catcher this year, and Matt Peterson will move from second base to shortstop."

Those newcomers include junior Blaine Storlie, who Konz said will help out on the mound and platoon in the infield. Junior Zach Kasten will play outfield.

Other senior candidates include returning infielder Nick Wiste and Brett Colsch, the latter giving the outfield a try this season after participating in track for a few years. Konz said Colsch and senior Shawn Buckland will also help out as pitchers.

Konz said he expects St. Charles, Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Caledonia/Spring Grove to be the teams to beat this year in the conference. In the section, La Crescent and the Warriors will be the favorites.