Howard Lake Community Guide 2016-17 - Page 34

34 h oward Lake GUIDEBOOK 2016-2017 Orphans fall just short of going to state By Kip Kovar 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Sports Editor The Orphans play their home games at Memorial Park in After the Howard Lake Orphans had an extremely suc- Howard Lake, which is located on the shores of Howard Lake. cessful 2015 campaign that ended just short of an appearOver the past decade, the park has seen a number of imance in the Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament provements, including added seating behind home plate, a championship game, the Orphans came up one game short batters’ eye, and a grass infield, among other improvements. in the Region 12C tournament in 2016 of reaching the state All of those improvements, along with more to come, have tournament. made Memorial Park one of the best baseball fields in the The Orphans came into the Region 12C tournament as area. the No. 1, seed after posting a 15-5 record in the North Star Prior to the 2009 season, new dugouts and a new backstop League during league play. After being upset in the first were added at Memorial Park. round of the Region 12C tournament by Buffalo, the OrIn 2011, due to high water conditions on Howard Lake, Mephans defeated Maple Plain 6-1 to keep their seaon alive. morial Park’s outfield was flooded, which forced the Orphans The win over the Diamond Devils set up a state qualify- to move their playoff games to Loretto. Work has since been ing game against Maple Lake, for a trip to to state. The Or- done to fix the flood damage to outfield. phans struggled in their state qualifying game against the Irish, as their season ended with an 8-1 loss to the Irish. Pitcher Jared Koch was named the North Start League’s Most Valuable Pitcher for the 2016 season. Town team baseball in Howard Lake goes back a long way, starting in 1905, when the team was named the Blue Sox. Throughout the early 1900s, Howard Lake eventually lost the name, but gained a new one in 1947. Playing their home games in Cokato that year, as their field was being refurbished and couldn’t be played on, they started getting called the Orphans, and the name stuck. The Orphans made their first state tournament appearance in 1951. Town team baseball in Howard Lake ceased from 1942-1946 due to World War II, but the Orphans took back to the field after the war and thrived until 1967, when the team folded. The 1970s and 1980s were a dark period for town team baseball in Howard Lake, as they had no team, with many players playing in neighboring towns. The team did try to come back in 1991, and also fielded a team in 1992, but then folded again. That is when a group led by current manager Mike Gagnon, and Kevin Gruenhagen started the Orphans back up, and it has been a success ever since. Howard Lake has advanced to Photo by Kip Kovar 12 state tournaments, with its first one Jared Koch pitches for the Orphans. Koch posted a 0.76 ERA on his way to being named coming in 1951, followed by 1995, the North Star League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. 1998, 2001, and finally 2006 through