Ben Pedersen (27) is one of six juniors returning to Duluth Marshall's starting lineup, one that took the Hilltoppers to their first state tournament last season. Photo by Taylor Lunemann, SportsEngine
Duluth Marshall made its first state tournament appearance last season, and the seventh-seeded Hilltoppers surprised some by upsetting second-seeded Belle Plaine 8-4 in the Class 2A quarterfinals thanks to a strong pitching performance from Ben Pedersen (7 hits, 7 strikeouts, 4 runs, 3 earned, 2 walks in 5 2/3 innings).
Pedersen, who posted a 1.50 ERA and struck out 57 batters in going 9-0 on the mound a year ago, is one of six juniors back in the starting lineup for a team that is poised for another postseason run this season. Duluth Marshall returns all but four players from last year's roster -- one that produced a 19-7 overall record and led the Hilltoppers to a fourth-place finish at state.
MN Baseball Hub: You committed to Missouri in the fall. Why did you decide to play for the Tigers?
BP: Mizzou was one of the schools that I thought would be a really good fit before I started getting recruiting attention. When I went on my visit, it felt just like home and I really like the coaching staff and their approach to coaching.
MN Baseball Hub: Who is the person that has been the biggest influence on your life and why?
BP: My biggest influence in my life would be my dad. He has an incredible work ethic and anything that he starts, he makes sure to finish. He got me into baseball as my Little League coach.
MN Baseball Hub: What's the one thing you like to do when no one's watching?
BP: My biggest thing that I do that isn’t a forced practice is working out everyday. As soon as I started really committing to putting in the work, I saw huge results.
Duluth Marshall righthander Ben Pedersen had a 1.50 ERA and struck out 57 batters in posting a 9-0 record on the mound last season. Photo submitted by Ben Pedersen
Since I was a freshman, we have a tradition at Marshall that after every game we get a Starburst from two (middle school-aged) brothers (who) go to every game. Their mom works in the athletic department and they come to every game.
-- Ben Pedersen
MN Baseball Hub: What is your first memory playing baseball?
BP: My first memory playing baseball was in coach-pitch [baseball] when I was really little. I hit the ball straight up in the air and rather than running to first, I waited for it to fall and hit it again.
MN Baseball Hub: Some people like to eat ice cream straight from the tub, some people like to binge watch Netflix shows. What's your guilty pleasure?
BP: This would for sure have to be the game that nearly everyone plays called Fortnite. We can get a team together after practice, or I can play and talk with my brother who is attending college in Milwaukee.
MN Baseball Hub: Where in the world would you most like to visit for a two-week vacation?
BP: I think the best idea of a vacation for me would be to go watch the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.