High Powered Battery: Vikings look to senior pitcher and catcher for leadership

Published 7:38 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017

HAYFIELD — When the Hayfield baseball team inevitably plays with its season on the line at some point this spring, it’s very likely that two seniors will have a big impact on whether the Vikings move on or not.

For the third straight year, Hayfield is leaning on its longtime battery — senior catcher Dominic Dublin and senior pitcher Adam Fjerstad. Both players played key roles on the Hayfield baseball team that was just one win from its first ever state tournament in school history in 2015 and both are highly motivated to get earn that opportunity again this year.

“As a team we strive to win,” Dublin said. “We want to win as many games as possible, make a playoff run and get back to where we were my sophomore year.”

Hayfield’s Adam Fjerstad pitches against USC in a Section 1A West Tournament game at Seltz Field season. Herald file photos

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Dublin is an ideal catcher for the Vikings as he has held the position since he started playing the game as a third grader. This year, he’s swinging a hot bat early on as he’s 5-for-13 with 7 RBIs and he provides a lot of leadership behind the plate.

“It’s good to have consistency back there, it’s a big position,” Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said of Dublin. “He’s done a very good job of not giving up extra bases and it’s nice to have a leader back there. He knows all of our calls and we don’t have to explain anything to him.”

Dublin was drawn to the position of catcher early on and he enjoys having the perspective of seeing the whole field. He’s comfortable calling pitches and he’s quick to make a call to the defense when he sees where a ball is hit. Dublin also has great camaraderie with Fjerstad.

“I kind of embrace it. I’ve caught almost every inning since I was in third grade and I’ve grown up doing it. I always thought it was the best position,” Dublin said. “[Fjerstad] and I have a chemistry. I know exactly what pitch he wants and when he wants it. I know his best pitch and that helps us out.”

Fjerstad moved to Hayfield from Kasson as an eighth grader, but he almost immediately began to climb up the pitching ranks. In his freshman year, he saw some time on the varsity squad and in his second year he pitched alongside Hayfield grad Cam Rutledge, who is currently playing baseball at RCTC.

“He learned a lot under Cam and he’s taken that into these years,” Krekling said. “For the last three years, every time we’ve trotted [Fjerstad] out there we feel like we have a good chance to win. It’s been less than a handful of times that we’ve lost with him out there.”

Dominic Dublin tries scoring against Lyle-Pacelli last season.

Fjerstad said it helped him a lot to be a three-sport athlete for the Vikings when he first moved to Hayfield. He was able to make some early friends while living in a new community and it wasn’t long before he was excelling on the mound for the Vikings.

“I just like to pound the strike zone. I go up their nice and relaxed and I trust in my defense behind me,” Fjerstad said. “We’re not really worried about the regular season too much. We want to get ready for the end of the year and we really want to make a playoff push.”

Hayfield was able to get a jump start to this season when it made a team trip to Florida in March. The Vikings have made the trek down south once every four years, but now that trip will come every two years. The trip is completely funded by team fundraisers and none of the funds come from the high school budget.

“It’s hard to enjoy baseball when you’re playing in 30 degrees in rain,” Krekling said of the Florida trip, which he started when he took over as head coach six years ago. “It’s really helped our program, even with our youth numbers and elementary. It’s an incentive.”

This year’s trip helped the Vikings start strong with their bats as Hayfield pounded out a total of 37 runs in wins over Triton and Faribault Bethlehem Academy to start the season. It also gave players a chance to grow closer.

“We bonded as a team and we got to see good teams down there,” Fjerstad said. “It really got us ready for the season.”

Hayfield (2-1 overall) will host Stewartville 4 p.m. Thursday and it will host Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton in a big showdown 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Krekling said the Vikings will have plenty of tests this season in the HVL.

“There are no easy games in the HVL and that’s good,” Krekling said. “There’s some nights where you wish you didn’t have to bring your ‘A’ game every night, but every game is going to get us ready for the playoffs. Come playoff time, we need to find that second, consistent pitcher.”