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Northstars ready to shine

Talented Havre baseball club makes highly-anticipated debut Tuesday


Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Veteran Tyrel Kjersem and the Havre Northstars American Legion baseball club will finally get to being their season next week. The season had been up in the air due to COVID-19, but, the Northstars have the go-ahead to start playing.

COVID-19 had plans to disrupt the 2020 Montana American Legion baseball season, but the league improvised, adapted and overcame the obstacle to move forward with a summer season, which means that the Havre Northstars American Legion baseball club will be taking to the field once again for another year.

Last season, the Northstars ended up with a 13-11 conference record and a 23-18 overall record to rank at No. 4 in the Class A North District standings. It may not have been the best of seasons for Havre, but it certainly was not the worse. Regardless, the 2020 season has the Northstars ready to accomplish a lot this year.

With the season finally starting up, Havre head coach Patch Wirtzberger is looking forward to the season ahead, with the competition looking to be fierce once again.

"I'm pretty happy with it," Wirtzberger said. "It's going to be challenging. We've got a lot of good teams on the schedule. With us not being able to play the Canadian teams, we had to play the other American teams within our district two more times. That's a good challenge. We get to play Lewistown two more times and play Tri-County and Great Falls. We get to play some teams we haven't played in a while like Glendive. Miles City and Gallatin Valley. It'll be really challenging but I'm happy with it. I'm excited to see how the kids will respond."

The Northstars bring back a returning squad full of youth and depth for the 2020 season. Seniors Quinn Reno and Tyrel Kjersem will be leading the charge this year and are poised to once again do well. Juniors Ethan Carlson, Carson Lunak and Eli Cloninger will be back in action for their third year on the squad, while sophomores Caden Jenkins, Trenton Maloughney and Theron Peterson look to continue their hard work for the Havre club.

As for the newcomers, junior Jeremiah Benson, who is from Dodson and played for Malta last season, will be joining the Northstars this year since Malta did not have a team. Sophomore Tavish Mclean will be joining Havre for his first season under the lights, while the rest of the newcomers are Kale Reno, Julian Benson, Drake Barreth and Brody Nanini.

The Northstars are full of talent, and Wirtzberger looks forward to seeing another excellent year for players like Reno, Kjersem, Lunak and Maloughney.

"Quinn Reno had a big year as a junior last year," Wirtzberger said. "We're kind of looking for him to have another great season. Tyrel Kjersem is our other more experienced player. He's great on the mound, he's improved at the plate and can play multiple positions on the field, so we're looking for him to have a great year. Carson Lunak is going to do great things on the mound this year. He's going to be one of the guys that eats up a lot of innings for us. Trenton Maloughney was a great newcomer for us last year and he picks up right where he left off at the plate last year."

This year will be very different for the Northstars, as the Canadian teams will not be playing the American teams, leaving teams like Havre with more games against fellow American clubs, which makes for a lot more intense competition within the season.

And the Northstars start off the year with six straight home games. The season and home opener will be Tuesday against Lewistown at Legion Field, June 5 is a home game against Glendive, June 6 pits Havre versus Gallatin Valley, June 7 will be the second bout against Glendive, June 8 will be against Miles City and June 10 has the Northstars battling against the Great Falls Lightning. After the Gallatin Valley Tournament in Three Forks June 12-13, Havre heads back home to play Tri-County.

On June 19, the Northstars will have games against Gillette and Gallatin Valley, followed by games against Glasgow and Livingston June 21. Havre then hosts Greats Falls AA June 23, followed by the Helena Tournament in Helena June 25-27. The Northstars then play away games against Lewistown June 30, Tri-County in Conrad July 1 and the Greats Falls Lightning July 5. Havre then exchanges home and away games with Tri-County July 7 and 9, followed by two home games against Lewistown July 13 and the Great Falls Lightning July 16.

From there, it is all road games. The Northstars will play Glendive July 18-19, the Great Falls Lightning July 20, Great Falls AA July 22 and Lewistown July 24 to wrap up the regular season. The postseason will begin with the District Tournament July 29-30 in Great Falls-Centene Stadium and then the State A Tournament in a to-be-determined location Aug. 6-9. Havre was to be the site of the Class A state tourney, but, the pandemic changed those plans.

A lot of conference games are lined up for Havre this season and when it comes to this year's opponents, Wirtzberger is confident that Lewistown and Gallatin Valley will be the biggest challenges on the field.

"Lewistown is a pretty experienced bunch right here within our district," Wirtzberger said. "We know those games will be challenging. Gallatin Valley always seems to be within the state tournament mix and are looking to get that championship to move on to regionals. Those are the tougher teams that I know will be more experienced groups."

And at the end of the day, Wirtzberger has the proper goals in place to help his team improve and succeed in the 2020 season.

"There's a lot of youth on this team," Wirtzberger said. "The goals are to try and get better every day and to learn to enjoy the process of trying to become better teammates, baseball players and people."

There will be a lot to look forward to and tough teams to overcome this season for the Northstars, but they have talent, experience, hard work and determination by their side to go far this year. Clubs like Lewistown, Gallatin Valley and the Great Falls teams will be great challenges and overall, Havre has many things on their side to make something out of a season that looked might it would never happen in the first place. But now that the Northstars have a chance to take the field for the 2020 season, they are going to make the most of it.

Havre opens its season Tuesday at Legion Field.


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