Eden Prairie, made up mostly of seniors, was coming off a dominant 2010 season and state championship, so this year’s Eagles held lofty expectations: They were older, wiser, stronger and more experienced.
But when the players limped off the field after their section playoff loss to Prior Lake — the last straw in a disappointing second half of the season — there was a temptation to stop and wonder what had gone wrong. Then, however, they remembered the stakes.
“I think that really put a spark plug in us,” pitcher Adam Bray said. “We came together and we said, ‘We’ve been playing together all of our lives, and we just don’t want this to be our last day.’”
It wasn’t, as the Eagles rallied through the losers’ bracket by playing what coach Mike Halloran called their best four games of the season to gain a state tournament berth. So what changed?
“That’s a good question,” Halloran said with a chuckle, of the team he had expected to be even stronger offensively than the previous year but lacked consistency most of the season. “I’m still trying to figure that one out. It’s amazing how that happens when your back is against the wall.”
One of the tangible things that changed was the return of Bray, who was out much of the year because of a high ankle sprain, which he rolled the day after the first game of the season. Bray, who recently signed with South Dakota State, was a major part of the Eagles’ rotation and has gone 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA while batting .409.
“I was really tough to just sit on the bench and think about what you could do to help the team out,” Bray said. “I wanted to get out there so bad … but it was worth sitting out because now I’m healthy and ready to go.”
Halloran said that was the physical lift the team needed to boost it psychologically.
“There was definitely a sense of urgency,” he said. “It was so great to have him; you just need that guy. And hitting is contagious. Our guys responded at the perfect time.”
|NAME||HIGH SCHOOL||YEAR||POS.||COLLEGE||VERBAL COMMIT|
|Sam Alt||Centennial||Senior||OF||North Dakota||Yes|
|Adam Bray||Eden Prairie||Senior||P||South Dakota State||Yes|
|Ryan Bull||Eden Prairie||Senior||C||Notre Dame||Yes|
|Ben Clark||White Bear Lake||Senior||LHP||North Dakota||Yes|
|Brett Degagne||Sauk Rapids-Rice||Senior||RHP||North Dakota||Yes|
|Padric Getchell||Stillwater||Senior||--||North Dakota||Yes|
|Kris Goodman||Apple Valley||Senior||SS||Iowa||Yes|
|Aaron Gretz||Apple Valley||Senior||C||Ohio State||Yes|
|Trevor Jaunich||Delano||Senior||SS||North Dakota State||Yes|
|Tom Jerle||Eastview||Senior||LHP||Niagara University||Yes|
|Pat Kelly||Red Wing||Senior||2B||Nebraska||Yes|
|Aaron Klatt||Albert Lea||Senior||RHP||South Dakota State||Yes|
|Chris Knoll||Holy Family||Senior||LHP||North Dakota||Yes|
|Geno Larkin||Eden Prairie||Senior||1B||Wagner College||Yes|
|Lucas Long||Holy Angels||Senior||P||Arizona||Yes|
|Max Murphy||Robbinsdale Cooper||Senior||OF||Bradley||Yes|
|Tyler Ruemmele||Eden Prairie||Senior||RHP||North Dakota||Yes|
|Toney Skjefte||Eden Prairie||Senior||2B||Minnesota||Yes|
|Andrew Thome||St. Cloud Cathedral||Senior||RHP||North Dakota||Yes|
|Lance Thonvold||Eden Prairie||Senior||RHP||Minnesota||Yes|
|Alex Twenge||Minnetonka||Senior||RHP||North Dakota||Yes|
|Robert Youngdahl||Hill-Murray||Senior||LHP||Kansas State||Yes|