There doesn’t seem to be much room for mistakes in the Northwest Suburban Conference this season. Not if you want to win the conference crown, anyway, with five teams beginning this week with one league loss and tied atop the standings — including Totino-Grace and Anoka, which meet Tuesday.
Totino-Grace, which finished behind Blaine and tied Robbinsdale Armstrong as runner-up in the standings last year, went .500 in four games last week. The Eagles (5-2, 3-1) lost their first two, 4-0 to Robbinsdale Armstrong on Tuesday and 10-9 to Benilde-St. Margaret’s the next day, but bounced back with a 6-5 win over Andover on Thursday and a 5-2 confidence-boosting victory over nonconference opponent Wayzata to cap the week. In the defeat of Andover, senior infielder Ben Palmer had two hits and four RBI.
The Eagles feature an experienced roster with 14 seniors and no underclassmen, so they know what it takes to compete with high-caliber conference opponents.
Anoka seems to have taken a step forward after finishing last year in the bottom half of the league standings.
The Tornadoes (6-1, 4-1) funneled their way to five consecutive victories to start the season and have only lost to conference rival Maple Grove (5-4 last Tuesday). Junior Nathan Culley has been a big reason for Anoka’s jump forward, with a 1.80 ERA in 11 2/3 innings thrown with 14 strikeouts, two wins and a save. Senior infielder Jackson Hauge leads the Tornadoes’ lineup with a .400 BA, two triples and eight RBI.