Wartburg College's 2010 squad opened a seven-date schedule at the Central Florida Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 26. Coach Joel Holst's Knights, received votes on the preseason D3Baseball.com poll.
Through early season practices, Holst has been pleased with what he's seen. "I think we'll be improved in all three phases of the game," he said. "I feel like the biggest strength is pitching, due to the veterans we have back. We'll need some time offensively and defensively due to some youth, especially on the infield defense, but I feel like the guys are all working to make those areas strong, too." Going into the trip, Holst's pitching rotation features senior Brad Watson of Urbandale, sophomore Scott Benson of Reinbeck, and senior Dan Grosser of Waterloo among the starters, and senior Nate Rost of Faribault, Minn., and sophomore Ryan Doty of Dubuque out of the bullpen.
Watson and Rost each return following all-Iowa Conference campaigns a year ago with Watson (7-5, 14 starts, seven complete games and two shutouts, 77 strikeouts, 3.79 earned run average) being named to the first team and Rost (4-1, 5.64 ERA, 33 strikeouts) being placed on the second squad. On the offensive side, Holst's crew has three of its top five hitters average-wise back led by two-time first team all-league honoree Patrick Grau, a senior outfielder from Elkader, (.367, 51 hits, 11 doubles, nine home runs, and 40 RBIs) as well as first team all-IIAC designated hitter Drew Yoder of Wellman, a sophomore (.371, 53 hits and 41 RBIs) and senior outfielder Ben Roemmich of West Des Moines, an honorable mention all-IIAC pick last spring (.327, 52 hits, nine doubles). Doty wasn't far off the pace, hitting .286.
After an off day Tuesday, March 1, Holst's crew closed its Florida excursion with dates against St. John Fisher March 2, RIT March 3 and St. Vincent March 4.