Norse improving by leaps and bounds as they work through divisional schedule

VIRGINIA — Mesabi Range head baseball coach Chris Vito is looking forward to playing Century College again in early May.

The teams opened the season against each other March 15 at US Bank Stadium and the Wood Ducks convincingly won both games of a doubleheader.

The Norsemen have gotten better since then and Vito wants to see just how his team has progressed.

“I know we’ve improved dramatically. Playing them again is kind of a benchmark.’’ The rematch is set for May 1-2 with a pair of home-and-doubleheaders.

For one thing, Vito knows everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Norsemen back in March. At the same time, everything that could have gone well for Century did go well.

“That seems like light years ago,’’ the head coach said. “We are definitely better than we were and getting better every game.’’

How have the Norsemen improved of late?

Vito said his team is hitting the baseball and scoring, along with good pitching and defense. “We are getting better each time out.’’

Leading the charge for Mesabi Range of late has been Dawson Tweet, Jackson Bode, Noah Paulseth, Cole Meyer, Trent Braaten, Ryan Hujanen and Zach Nelson, the most recent MCAC Pitcher of the Week.

Tweet is batting .408 with 31 hits from the leadoff spot; Bode is at .422 with 19 hits; Paulseth is hitting .310, Meyer and Braaten are coming along and Max Grundhofer “has done a good job for us.’’

The Norsemen also gained some depth early in the season after Bode and Paulseth returned from being in concussion protocol.

After splitting four games with Vermilion last weekend, Mesabi Range is off to Anoka-Ramsey on Thursday starting at 2 p.m.

“We’re excited to be playing Thursday. It’s important to keep playing. The kids need those opportunities,’’ Vito said.

The focus is now on reaching the regionals as the regular season nears its end on May 7-8 against Hibbing.

“The parity in the North is unbelievable right now.’’ It should be a tight contest down the stretch with the top three teams making it to regionals.

Mesabi Range is now 4-4 in the conference (third place) and 6-15 overall. Itasca currently lead the conference at 2-1 (7-10) and Vermilion is second at 2-2 (12-8). Rainy River is now in fourth at 3-4 (5-16), while Hibbing is fifth at 0-0 (5-13).

“Everybody is right there with everybody,’’ Vito said.

The coach knows his team is not where it needs to be quite yet, but “we’re capable of beating anybody.’’

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