Catching suits senior

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2000

A relay throw home sailed high over the out-stretched arm of catcher Jon Holtorf.

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

A relay throw home sailed high over the out-stretched arm of catcher Jon Holtorf.

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"Why didn’t you show us your hops?" cried a voice from the outfield.

"You know I ain’t got those," cracked Holtorf.

Fortunately for the senior receiver, his job description calls more for blocking balls in the dirt than it does for catching throws meant for the likes of Randy Moss.

Holtorf is in his third year on the varsity baseball team. But this is his first at his natural position.

"He’s wanted to play catcher for three years," said Austin baseball coach Jerry Miller, who could find only a handful of catching appearances for Holtorf last season.

"Matt Raso," uttered Holtorf while shaking his head. "Because of him, I’ve had to play third base."

A third baseman can go a game without seeing a live ball – not the type of action that excites Holtorf.

But with Raso graduated, the catcher’s job is now all Holtorf’s. He doesn’t intend to let the opportunity sail like that throw at Monday’s practice.

"I’m happy," he said. "I like being in control of the game and having a relationship with the pitchers."

Holtorf is one of five regulars returning for the Packers.

The return of Holtorf (13 hits, .288 average) and fellow seniors Matt Smith (15, .333) and Nick Rohne (19, .292) gives the Packers three of their top five bats back from a season ago, prompting Holtorf to say, "the bats are what we’re going to depend on this season."

The bats, and a veteran catcher who has two varsity seasons behind him and the big break he’s been waiting for right in front of him.

Hansen stars at Great Eight

Austin senior Nate Hansen starred at the Great Eight Hockey Festival in the Twin Cities over the weekend.

Hansen, who is also an outfielder on the baseball team, scored seven points in three games while playing for the Section 1A/1AA team.

The festival pitted teams made up of each section in the state against one another.

Fellow Austin seniors Tony Hill, a defenseman, and Kyle Olson, a goaltender, also played in the tournament.

But it was Hansen who made the biggest impression, scoring two goals and two assists in a 5-3 win over the Section 8A/8AA team that included players from hockey hotbeds Roseau and Warroad.

Hansen picked up an assist in a 6-4 loss to Section 5A/AA and two assists in a 9-4 loss to Section 4A/4AA, which featured players from AA champ Blaine.

Brady Slater’s column appears Tuesdays