Scorching Skippers: Tonka Baseball is BALLING


BOMBA SQUAD | Braden Storts, ’23, butchers Elk River In a 13-4 W

Sam Bremer, Deputy Editor of Sports & Wellness

Springtime in Minnesota. The snow has melted away, the songbirds have migrated back up north and temperatures are finally rising. Imagine that. More importantly, Minnetonka Baseball is finally back, and even with the chilly weather outside, the Skippers are hoping to capitalize on a hot start to the season.

After a disappointing season last year which saw the Skippers finish with an underwhelming 6-17 record, Minnetonka has made a point to rebound with a passion in 2023. It’s still very early in the season but Minnetonka has already nearly matched last year’s win total, with their first 5-0 start since the 2018 campaign, where the team ended up earning a 22-6 record en route to the section playoffs.  

To start off so strong as a team, it’s necessary for a lot of things to go right, but head coach Paul Twenge has lauded the team’s ability to pitch strikes and play defense. As simple as that sounds, especially early in the season, a lot of teams struggle heavily on the defensive end. Twenge said, “The hardest thing to do in sports is to take a round bat to a round ball and hit it square. You can’t always depend on that, so you have to build off your defense. That’s the one thing you can control”. 

This season, the one thing the Skippers have controlled has been the opposition. In the first 5 games, Tonka has allowed just over 3 runs per outing while scoring nearly 9 runs a game themselves, showing their abilities both offensively and defensively. 

As with almost every team in any sport at any level, there are sure to be setbacks for Minnetonka in 2023, but there’s a lot of optimism that this group in particular can handle it. Twenge said, “This team gets along, they listen, and they work hard. For a coach, that’s perfect”. 

An interesting element to handling successes and failures for this specific Minnetonka team is the age diversity in this group. Currently, the Varsity squad rosters 22 players, 50% of whom are not seniors. For some teams, that mix can create tension, especially for upperclassmen, but Twenge expressed appreciation for his seniors’ willingness to “Allow the younger guys to help them win”. 

Twenge linked a lot of that professionalism to the number of multi-sport athletes that Minnetonka baseball rosters. Hypothetically, it’s better to have a team of 100% baseball players than guys who need to devote time to basketball, hockey, football or whatever other sports they may play, but Twenge asserted that from a leadership perspective, experience in other sports is invaluable, “These guys have learned how to handle success and failure with other groups of guys. That experience quietly makes them leaders, and gives us competitive guys who we know want to win”. 

Ultimately, it’s a long season and it remains to be seen whether or not Tonka can stay hot all Summer. But, there’s no denying that this seems to be a very promising season for the fellas in blue, as long as they play together. Twenge said, “They gotta take care of their individual game but also realize that they can’t do it by themselves”. At the end of the day, baseball is the ultimate team sport. Even Mike Trout can’t win you a baseball game if the rest of the team is no good. But Tonka looks solid in every capacity early on. If the Skippers can take care of what they can control, their ceiling as far as performance is over the fence.