2012 season review: Huskies enjoyed success in all areas
Trey Vavra enjoyed his summer vacation. All three days of it. As a member of the Duluth Huskies, Vavra didn't get a lot of time off this summer, but he would have gladly traded those three days off this week for a Northwoods League baseball posts...
Trey Vavra enjoyed his summer vacation.
All three days of it.
As a member of the Duluth Huskies, Vavra
didn't get a lot of time off this summer, but he would have gladly traded those three days off this week for a Northwoods League baseball postseason run.
That didn't quite happen as Duluth stumbled down the stretch, going 7-10 after leading the North Division standings at the All-Star break, including a 1-4 mark against second half champion Willmar.
"We were in the driver's seat, but just lost that edge," said Vavra, a Northwoods League All-Star infielder. "We had some negative things happen toward the end and couldn't recover. A couple guys had deaths in their family and had to go home, (Harvard pitcher) Joey Novak lost his coach, we had injuries, all sorts of things. You couldn't fault anybody. It was just poor timing."
While Duluth wasn't one of the Northwoods League's four playoff teams, the season was a success on the field and at the gate. The Huskies finished 38-32 overall, third best in the North Division, and their average attendance of 1,235 placed ninth in the 16-team league.
Duluth canceled only two games this summer to weather (due to the June 19 flood), and the overall
attendance of 40,739 in 2012 was more than 8,000 more than last summer. The Huskies finished the regular season in style, drawing 3,300 fans on Saturday and 2,200 on Sunday.
Huskies general manager Craig Smith said the team generally needs to average between 1,100 and 1,200 fans to break even financially but had yet to see the final numbers for 2012.
"This past weekend was fantastic," Smith said. "And July was great, but we're going to continue working with the local business community to find ways to get more fans out in June."
Smith called this year's team the best the Huskies have ever had in terms of cohesiveness.
After years of being a pitching-dominated ball club, the Huskies had perhaps the most prolific offensive production in the team's 10-year history.
That helped offset some defensive lapses in the field, especially early.
"A couple of those games looked more like soccer, we were kicking the ball around so much," Smith said.
Leading the offense was South Florida's James Ramsay, who set team records for batting average (.381), hits (94), runs (45) and triples (10), while fellow Huskies All-Star Novak set a team record with 13 starts while leading the team with a 7-3 record and 3.18 ERA.
Dylan Vogt of Nebraska added eight saves to go with a .74 ERA, while Luke Campbell (.350), Paul Karmeris (.344) and Vavra (.335) helped Huskies maintain a team batting average of .299 with 43 home runs. Duluth averaged more than six runs per game, making for some entertaining slugfests at Wade Stadium.
Vavra, the son of Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra, stayed in Superior this summer with his aunt Kathy Dahlin. He will attend Eastern Illinois State after two years at Madison College.
"We had some Division I talent at Madison, but I have never been on a team with as much firepower as we had with the Huskies," Vavra said. "We could score with anyone, and pitching wise, we had some guys with some pretty nasty stuff. At the middle of the season we had a full rotation but could have used another starter at the end."
Vavra's brother, Tanner, played this summer for the Alexandria Beetles and tied Ramsay with a .381 average, but he apparently won the league batting title by percentage points despite being blind in his right eye.
"It's hard to make excuses around somebody like that," Trey Vavra said of his brother. "I respect the heck out of that guy,"
He also respects Ramsay, one of his better friends on the team.
"I watched the way James went about his routine, how he set a goal for each day and then went out and executed it, and I tried to do the same," Vavra said. "We had a bunch of guys like that. There weren't any superstars with big egos, just guys who were down to earth and fun to be around, and I think it showed in the way we played."