Ask anyone on or around the NIACC baseball team who their strongest hitter is:
Sophomore Joey Werner epitomizes what the Trojans preach: strong hitting.
“He is one of the best, just what he’s put together the last two years,” head coach Travis Hergert said. “He’s the prototypical player, he plays his butt off, he does everything right, he shows up to work each and every day.”
Werner went 3-for-3 in a 15-6 victory against Luther JV on Monday, May 7. He was one of five players to knock a homer over the Roosevelt fence.
It was almost a trend. From the press box, the spectators had a number of guesses as to whom would hit the first of many home runs that night.
“We’ve had now six games in a row we’ve scored double-digit runs,” Hergert said. “The thing I like is seeing production from a lot of different people, guys on the bench. That’s really key going down the stretch.”
But most names came after Werner’s and he’d crush the third one of the game. Werner’s hones a .431 batting average with seven home runs and 45 RBI this season so far.
The Hastings, Minnesota-native is also one of four players to sign with a Division I program this year, Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
“I get to go down to Texas, play in some warm weather, be in a pretty decent conference, and I wanted to sign early just so I don’t put pressure on myself this season,” Werner said. “It hasn’t stopped me, I continue to work. My end goal is to get drafted, so it’s kind of helped my confidence knowing that I have a place to develop next year.”
He joins the list with Bryce Ball (Dallas Baptist), Tyler Lien (University of Louisiana-Monroe) and Brandon Williamson (Michigan State).
Hergert credits his assistant coaches on perfecting each player’s hitting game, but also says his program puts increased emphasis on physical strength from the weight room.
NIACC (34-18-1, 20-7-1) stands as the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament and will face the winner of Iowa Lakes (17-33, 5-23) and Northeast CC (17-36-1, 6-22) on Thursday in Clinton.
Hergert is confident his team is peaking in offensive production, but still needs to solidify the bullpen.
The Trojans put six different pitchers on the mound, with freshman Harrison Beethe seeing the most time at 3 1/3 innings. Beethe amassed eight strikeouts, one earned run, four hits and three walks.
Sophomore Chase Stewart stood out, pitching two clean innings including four strikeouts. Chase Rath finished out the game with two strikeouts in the final inning.
The pieces are all there, it’s a matter of what the Trojans can build moving forward.
“We just need to keep scoring runs and execute as much on offense as possible,” Werner said. “We just need to pitch it, we need our bullpen to be ready, our starters are going to give us good starts.”