Huskies home opener: Stahl back for another year
A losing season wore on Duluth Huskies coach Adam Stahl last summer, and the frustration was apparent. One might think the last thing Stahl would want is more of the same, but Stahl is a poor loser in a good way. He wants to leave on a winning note.
A losing season wore on Duluth Huskies coach Adam Stahl last summer, and the frustration was apparent.
One might think the last thing Stahl would want is more of the same, but Stahl is a poor loser in a good way. He wants to leave on a winning note.
That's why Stahl has returned for a third year to lead the Huskies, who have their home opener at 7:05 p.m. today at Wade Stadium against the St. Cloud River Bats. Duluth went 26-42 last year after back-to-back Northwoods League playoff appearances.
"I had a bad taste in my mouth last year," Stahl said. "The people in Duluth have always been so good, and they deserved a lot better than we gave them last year. I just feel we need to get this thing right."
So far, the results have been mixed. The Huskies (2-2) split a tough opening four-day road trip, winning two of three tight contests before getting routed 11-3 on Sunday afternoon in Waterloo, Iowa.
Stahl and Huskies general manager Craig Smith took a different approach to bringing in players this offseason. Rather than seek draft-ready talent that probably would be gone by season's end, they feel they have a group that for the most part will stick it out until August.
"We had good kids last year, don't get me wrong, but I just think some of the guys were here for the wrong reasons," Stahl said. "They were using the Northwoods League to try to generate more money for their signing bonus at the end of the summer. The group we have this year looks to get themselves better, and get their teams better."
In a training league known for its constant turnover as college players come and go, Stahl has provided stability at the top. Prior to Duluth, he was an assistant in the Northwoods League with Brainerd.
"Having the same coach back is a good thing for us, especially for the guys who are returning," second-year Huskies infielder Andy Burns said. "We know what he likes to do and what he's about, and we're gong to do our best to get him some more wins. He deserves that."
Stahl, who is the baseball coach at Parkway South High School in Manchester, Mo., has preached a small-ball approach that can be effective in the Northwoods League, especially early in the season as players adjust to using wooden bats unlike the aluminum of the college game. That kind of approach of bunting runners ahead and aggressive base running also lends itself to pitcher-friendly Wade Stadium, even if fans love to see the long ball.
"Adam Stahl is an incredible human being, and he has always had the green light to come back and coach this team any time he wants," Smith said. "He's a great baseball guy; he knows how to coach collegiate players and is a student of the game. The guy's a winner."
Stahl is also a family man, and with a wife and three children back home in St. Louis, each year the decision to devote his summer to the Duluth Huskies is a difficult one. Stahl wishes he could somehow combine the two, family and Huskies baseball, even though he knows that isn't possible.
"Honestly, Duluth is my home away from home," Stahl said. "The people in Duluth are just so genuine, and I look forward to coming up there every year. I wish I could take them home with me."
IF YOU GO
What: Huskies' Northwoods League home opener
When: 7:05 p.m. Monday, June 1
Where: Wade Stadium
Records: St. Cloud 1-3, Duluth 2-2