The Prior Lake baseball team has played .500 ball under coach Al Iversen.
The Lakers finished 12-12 overall last season, the same record the team achieved in Iversen's first season as coach in 2019. There was no 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Section 2AAAA playoffs, Prior Lake has a 4-4 record under Iversen.
So how can the Lakers take a bigger step forward this spring? That usually starts with pitching and Prior Lake does return some starters in seniors Ryan Wattermann and Henry Brandt.
They are two of the team's four captains, along with senior Harry Fleek and Mike Gabbard.
Senior Lance Behrens and junior Tyus Smith will also get some work on the mound. Brandt, Wattermann, Smith and Behrens each logged innings in the Section 2AAAA playoffs last year.
Seniors Alex Jensen, Charles Running, PJ Dahl and Ross Hebel are also back for the Lakers who got varsity time last spring.
Other members of the team include seniors Ben Anderson, Charlie Bredeson, Cole Clausen, David Flasher, Jack Burley, Nick Albee and Jager Leverson and sophomore Matthew Totten.
Prior Lake started the playoffs strong last season with 10-3 and 12-7 victories over Chanhassen and Edina, respectively, before losing 3-2 to Minnetonka in the winners bracket final. The Lakers were eliminated from the postseason with a 10-0 loss to Chanhassen in the losers bracket.
Minnetonka is the defending section champion, and the Skippers are the only Section 2AAAA team ranked in the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Association's preseason Class 4A poll in the No. 8 spot.
In section realignment a year ago, Section 2AAAA didn't change that much. Edina was shipped out to Section 6AAAA, while Waconia moved into 2AAAA.
Eden Prairie, Chaska, Shakopee and Bloomington Jefferson also remained in Section 2AAAA.
Prior Lake finished 8-10 in the South Suburban Conference last year, which it for eighth place. The team was 9-9 in league play in 2019.
Rosemount is the defending SSC champion, but the Irish are not the favorite this year. That would be Farmington. The Tigers opened the season ranked No. 1 in the state.
Farmington was also the state runner-up last year, losing 12-10 to Park in the title game.
This year's Section 2AAAA tournament starts May 30 with the first round. The title game is set for June 10.
The Class 4A state tournament will be held June 16-18. The first two rounds are CHS Field in St. Paul with the title games for all four classes at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Prior Lake is still seeking its first-ever trip to state in program history.