Algona Baseball Ready For 2024 Season

by Tyler Lance
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Opening day has arrived for the Algona Bulldog baseball team as the Bulldogs visit the Charles City Comets on Tuesday, May 14th in the season opener.

Algona comes off a 2023 campaign that resulted in a 16-15 record, including going 9-5 and tying for 3rd place with Clear Lake in the North Central Conference, behind first place Humboldt and second place Webster City. Algona would win their postseason opener against Clear Lake, but fall in the second round to Gilbert.

Priority number one in getting prepared for the 2024 season has been getting the pitching in order according to Head Coach Chad Slagle. Although the Bulldog pitching staff proved that they were capable of piling up strikeouts, with the team recording the second most punchouts in the North Central Conference with 223, they struggled with walks, issuing 181 free passes in 204 innings, also the second most in the conference.

Iowa commit Tate Slagle returns to the mound for Algona after pitching eight games for the Bulldogs in 2023, striking out 43 and walking 33 in 18.2 innings, while allowing a .109 opposing average and compiling a 5.62 ERA. Fellow junior Aiden Ulrich is also expected to be a key arm. Ulrich posted a 3.12 ERA in 9 games pitched for Algona last season, striking out 37 and walking 35 in 33.2 innings. The pitching staff drops off in varsity experience after Slagle and Ulrich, but Coach Slagle is optimistic with the other Bulldog arms that are ready to step up and take on more varsity innings.

In addition to the players jockeying for varsity innings on the mound, another key position battle for Algona heading into the season is in the outfield, where the Bulldogs have to replace all three starters from last season. Coach Slagle feels the team has narrowed in on four guys who will get the majority of outfield reps, but that other players will be ready to step up if needed.

Algona is also looking for a strong presence at the catcher position after the graduation of Tristin Larsen. Coach Slagle expects Ulrich to move to catcher after frequently playing third base and shortstop last season, but knows other players will have to be ready to catch when Ulrich is on the mound.

Slagle wants whoever is behind the plate to be the leader of the infield.

Algona will bring a mix of returners and new faces to the starting batting order. Ulrich, a first team all-conference selection in 2023, hit .315 last year with one home run and 23 runs driven in. Tate Slagle earned a second team all-conference selection in 2023, due in part to batting .341 with two homers and 17 RBI, while stealing 18 bases in 18 attempts. Other key returning starters include senior Reid Louwagie, who appeared in all 31 games last season and batted .284, and senior Logan Lentz, who also played every game batting .241 and leading Algona hitters with 22 walks.

Coach Slagle wants to see the Bulldog hitters be mentally tough in the box.

After tying for third place in the North Central Conference last season, Algona will try to win their first conference title since 2013. Slagle knows it won’t be an easy task, with the top half of the conference being a toss-up.

Much like the 2023 edition of the Algona Bulldogs played their best baseball at the end of the season, winning seven games in a row before being eliminated in the second round of the postseason, Slagle wants to see improvement throughout the season and the team playing their best ball by the end.

Algona begins their season on May 14th with a road trip to Charles City. The Bulldogs follow that up with a home game against Spencer on May 16th, and the crosstown game at Bishop Garrigan on May 17th.

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