With no seniors and just three juniors on its roster, common sense would say Silver Bay is in for a long and difficult season.
However, the Mariners return a wealth of young talent, including 2018 Polar League All-Stars Ero Wallin, Riley Tiboni and Lucas Stadler.
The team also pushed Ely, the Section 7A runner up in 2018, to the limit, holding a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Timberwolves took advantage of a pair of walks and a dropped fly ball to advance, but the team gained valuable experience for the upcoming season.
Wallin and Tiboni were both strong on the mound for Silver Bay and Wallin added some power to the lineup. In addition, junior Mason Ollman showed flashes of brilliance on the mound, allowing just one hit and one run over four innings in the game against Ely.
In addition, as the 2018 season wore on, Stadler, a sophomore, worked his way into the starting catcher position and led the team in batting average.
The biggest challenge for the Mariners will be replacing Jason Blood. Blood was a reliable pitcher and, perhaps more importantly, the team's center fielder.
Coach Ward Wallin said the team may try to fill Blood's position in the field "by committee," with Tiboni and Ollman both spending time in the Mariner outfield.
While the Mariners have some question marks in the field, they have several strong hitters and three pitchers that could help them challenge Section 7A defending champion South Ridge for a trip to the state tournament.
Silver Bay is scheduled to open the season against Cook County on Tuesday, April 9, in Grand Marais.