by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Two prize commodities for a softball team are a speedy outfielder who can steal doubles and triples from opponents, and a leadoff hitter always getting aboard and churning around the bases with reckless abandon.
Micah Loegering fills both bills for Tootsie’s Tavern Orange, helping the Big Lake team reach the Monday Men’s finals in Elk River. The 21-year-old college baseball player roams center in an all-Loegering outfield, in fact, flanked by his brothers Matt and Mason.
Loegering has the physical gifts to play anywhere. In baseball he has been an infielder (first, second and short) through high school, college and town team. But in slow-pitch softball he does the most good at center field, outrunning line drives and deep fly balls, frequently with a diving catch. He’s got a rocket arm that’s erased several baserunners. After a team sees his first throw they don’t usually test him.
“I’m always looking for an opportunity to dive and catch a ball,” he admits. “I enjoy playing outfield in softball more than anywhere else I’ve played (in baseball).”
Softball teams have the option for a four-man outfield, which most use, or an extra infielder. Tootsie’s opts for the latter. “Micah is so fast, and he covers so much ground, that’s why we only use three outfielders,” said manager James Sanford.
At the plate, Loegering is hitting close to .750 and scoring batches of runs.
He turns a lot of hits into doubles that would be a single for someone else,” said Sanford.
Tootsie’s Tavern, league runner-up last year, is the lone unbeaten in the playoffs and will have two chances to win once Monday, against Sunshine Depot or Tootsie’s Heroes.
(A fourth brother, Mitchell, is sitting out this season with a torn ACL.)
Micah played football (wide receiver), basketball (guard) and baseball (second base) for Big Lake High School. He was all-Mississippi 8 in baseball, deployed at second base for his ability to scoop grounders and make the double play pivot.
He plays on two baseball teams now — college and town team.
At Grand View University in Des Moines, Loegering hit .308 with 10 doubles, three homers, 34 runs, 24 RBI and nine stolen bases in 51 games this spring (the team was 27-29). The Vikings stationed him at first base but he expects to be an outfielder his final two years.
Loegering plays shortstop for the Big Lake Whitecaps town team, hitting around .275 currently with 25 steals. His dad, Dan, is the manager and started the team three years ago. All four boys play, with Mason in center, Matt at first and Mitchell at second although he’s out this year with the injury. The Whitecaps went to “state” in Class C the last two years and did well, placing fourth in 2010 and eighth (among 32 teams) in 2011.
Asked his biggest sports thrill so far, Loegering said, “Going to state (in baseball) when I was 19,” the year they reached the semifinals. This year will be tougher as they were moved up to Class B.
Loegering says softball is “just for fun” for he and his brothers. “One thing I like is the speed of the game. Baseball can be kind of slow sometimes,” said the young man who’s happiest at top speed.
THE LOEGERING SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 21 … Family: parents Dan and Mary; brothers Matt, 27; Mitchell, 23; Mason, 19 … Sports: baseball and softball now; baseball, basketball, and football at BLHS … Occupation: student/athlete at Grand View University, Des Moines, elementary education
Favorite stuff — TV shows: “Two and a Half Men” and “Anger Management” … Movies: “The A Team” and “Ted” … Food: mashed potatoes … Drink: milk, water … Music: country … Team: Twins … Athlete: Percy Harvin … Kickback: golfing, fishing … Ambition: teach and coach