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Miesville Mudhens add depth to strong team

The rich get richer.

The Miesville Mudhens went to the Class B state amateur baseball tournament in 2011, the fourth time in the last five years, but expect to be even stronger this season.

"I do expect to get back to state," Miesville manager Matt Van Der Bosch said. "Not saying that we're going to walk through anybody, I just feel that's my expectation to get there again."

A team that finished 32-10 last year will welcome three new players at the top of their respective college teams: Chuck Bruchu, a senior at second-ranked Division III University of St. Thomas; Colin Keefe, a sophomore catcher at sixth-ranked Des Moines Area Community College of the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division II; and Alex Lashomb, also a sophomore at DMACC.

Bruchu is hitting .324 with a team-leading two home runs and 28 RBI to go along with 11 stolen bases.

"He can play anywhere," Van Der Bosch said. "He'll be a good asset. He's very athletic and he can run. He'll fit in pretty well and he's got some pop."

As for Keefe and Lashomb, Van Der Bosch said it will be nice to add some serious power to an already potent lineup. Keefe is batting .363 in 50 games with 10 home runs and 47 RBI behind only Lashomb, who is hitting .395 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI in 50 games.

"It looks like they can stick it pretty well," he said. "I think they'll both be good fits and good additions."

All three will be expected to contribute immediately, but Van Der Bosch is no slouch himself. A graduate of Hastings High School, former Summit League Player of the Year at Division I Oral Roberts University and Boston Red Sox draft pick, Van Der Bosch led the Mudhens with a .465 batting average, nine home runs and was second with 34 RBI last year.

He'll be joined in the lineup by returners David Olson, a .386 batting average with six home runs and 38 RBI, and David Bruchu, who hit .334 with two home runs and 40 runs scored.

On the defensive side, the Mudhens welcome back top pitchers Chris Olean and Luke Rasmussen.

"I think pitching is kind of what carries us always," Van Der Bosch said. "Obviously, on any good team, pitching is just about everything. If you can't pitch, you can't win."

Olean, the head baseball coach at St. Thomas and former player in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, went 10-1 last year with a 1.84 ERA and a more than 10 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. He struck out 92 and walked just nine.

"Chris has been the back bone of the pitching staff, the ace during my time with the team," Van Der Bosch said.

In Rasmussen, a former pitcher at the University of Minnesota, Miesville can boast two pitchers with top-level ability. Last season, Rasmussen compiled a 10-2 record, with a 1.92 ERA, 82 strikeouts and only 16 walks. The Mudhens also bring back Erik Olson who was 15-8 in his career at St. Thomas.

Miesville has won five state titles, most recently in 2007, and with a reloaded roster, Van Der Bosch said he hopes to get back to the top again this year.

"I think the goal every year is to win a state championship and that's my main goal," he said. "That's everyone's expectation. I wouldn't be playing if that wasn't the case."

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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