DULUTH, MN- St. Scholastica shortstop Joey Zwak has played baseball his whole life in Duluth. Gearing up for his final season has the former Greyhound soaking in every bit of it.
"Especially it being your last year. This year is going to be something special, hopefully. You just have to make the most of it and enjoy every moment," said Zwak.
Zwak and company will deal with some changes this upcoming season that includes having a new head coach in Kevin Ritsche.
"His coaching style is fairly similar to what we're used to. He's an alumni here. He knows the tradition and how the programs run here. He's a very knowledgable guy, very smart, comes up with his own philosophies and stuff like that. Everyone here has an open mind and is willing to learn from his high knowledge," added Zwak.
Ritsche, who played for the Saints from 2001 to 2004 says it's a blessing to return to his alma mater.
"After being gone for 15 years and coming back to see the program the way it's been shaped and the culture has been carried on and the traditions have carried on. Things have changed here but things haven't. And it's been great to get going with the boys here," said Ritsche.
The Saints have missed the NCAA tournament the past two seasons but with guys like Zwak to lead the program, Coach Ritsche believes the team is poised to make a run.
"He understands we have a job to do and he shows up to practice every day. He treats it like it's something important to us, important to the team, to get better every day, reach our goals, to getting back to a regional, potentially moving further beyond that. He kind of brings that and shows that to the other guys and that kind of rubs off of them," added Ritsche.
Zwak, a gold glove winner for Division 3 last season, says it's a combination of things that has made the team confident heading into the new season.
"It helps to have the senior class that we have this year. We have a lot of good guys, a lot of leadership here, and a lot of talent. A lot of guys that have experience here playing in the last couple of years. You mix that with a younger core of guys that can follow those leaders. Then, I think good things are bound to happen," said Zwak.
St. Scholastica opens the regular season on February 23rd against Macalester at U.S. Bank Stadium. The first pitch is at 6 PM.