The Madison Bulldogs club baseball team will begin the season on Monday at Baughman-Belatti Park with a 6 p.m. contest against Sioux Falls Lincoln.
This will be the first time in over a year that the Bulldogs will be on the field. The 2020 season was called off due to COVID-19.
There are 36 eighth-graders through seniors vying for a spot on the team.
"We can have a full junior varsity team with these numbers," said coach Eric Hortness.
Returning letterwinners include seniors Logan Allbee, Braden Eimers, Ty Jorgenson, Ashton Nills and Zach Whitlock and junior Aspen Dahl.
Non-letterwinners include senior Tyler Reck; juniors Riley Kearin, Tim Kessler, Nate Ricke, Trey Smith and Peyton Wolf; sophomores Addison Gehrels, Lucas Johnson, Calvin Kelsey, Jared Kennington, Mason Kennington and Lucas Mork; freshmen Carlos Farfan, Eli Barger, Braxton Bjorklund, Parker Johnson, Thomas Mechels, Jack Olson, Carsen Schneider and Evan Bobick-Freund; and eighth-graders Lincoln Anderson, Quinn Flemming, Gerritt VanLiere, Carson Wolf, Brayden Gust, Ben Brooks, Jordan Pedersen, Jake Wieman and Curtis Thennis.
"We started practicing about two weeks ago," said Hortness. "This is about a month later than usual."
Because of that, the Bulldogs have been able to practice outside.
"Anytime you are outside taking fly balls or throwing it across the diamond, it is always better than being inside," Hortness said.
The early-season schedule is filled with Class A teams; Madison won't face a Class B team until April 7.
"We wanted tough teams to see if we are ready to play, and some of the Class B teams haven't started yet," said Hortness. "We wanted to challenge our boys. Sometimes you learn a lot more by close games."
Top pitchers for the Bulldogs will be Allbee, Eimers, Nills, Whitlock, Dahl, Kearin, Ricke, Peyton Wolf, Johnson, Mason Kennington and Mork.
According to Hortness, fans don't have to wear masks at home games. All games are seven innings, and all Madison home games are set for Baughman-Belatti Park.
Assisting Hortness are Matt Burpee, Doug Iverson, Heath Williams and Trent Miller.