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Ranweiler, Altermatt reflect on shortened season at MSU

MANKATO — New Ulm High School grad Hunter Ranweiler didn’t expect to have his first official season playing college baseball shortened to 12 games due to a global pandemic.

Needless to say, no high school or college athletes expected this kind of spring.

Ranweiler, a redshirt freshman and catcher at Minnesota State University, Mankato, was off to a hot start this spring, hitting .326 with 14 hits and eight runs scored in 12 games before his season was ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With several schools, stores and businesses closing, postponing and canceling events and activities due to the outbreak, Ranweiler has had to watch his strong start halted by something out of his control.

The NCAA canceled the rest of the spring season on March 12. And while the NCAA did grant another season of eligibility for spring sports athletes, it was only for this year’s seniors that wish to compete next year.

“We were actually in the airport on our way back when everything started to get canceled,” Ranweiler said. “But I guess it didn’t really hit me until like a week in because all of the stuff was getting canceled and we were waiting for our conference to give us the official word on it. Right away, it has that movie-type feel to it. You didn’t expect — in my first year getting to play — you didn’t expect coming in that, ‘Yeah, you guys are going to get cut short this season,’ and, ‘You guys aren’t going to get your season.’ But it’s how it is this year. I guess it still doesn’t feel real to me. I don’t feel like this should be happening, but it is and I guess we have to move on and stay ready for next year.”

Former Wabasso High School standout athlete Nick Altermatt is another Maverick baseball player who was affected by this coronavirus cancelation.

“Obviously right away you think about the seniors and what they’re going to do, and you feel bad for them a little bit,” Altermatt said. “But you get ready for the season and you work all year just to have it taken away from you almost. It’s kind of rough, but there’s nothing you can really do about it. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. It’s just a tough situation that we’re all in.”

Ranweiler said that despite the disappointing news, he was happy with how he and the team played in limited action. This year, the Mavericks went 8-5 overall, playing all of their games in Florida and Missouri.

“We didn’t get to play a ton of games, but I was pretty happy with my performance,” Ranweiler said. “The only thing that I wasn’t happy with was that I got really hot right away, then kind of went downhill, just got probably too confident in myself and expected too much in games. But the one thing I was pretty proud of was as a team, we really came out ready right away. We dropped a couple games we probably shouldn’t have, but it showed a lot of a character that we had as a team.”

Altermatt, the 2018 All-Journal Baseball Player of the Year and 2019 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Freshman of the Year, finished last season with a .372 batting average, 77 hits, 49 runs scored, 42 RBIs and 16 doubles in 54 games.

This season in 13 games, the shortstop hit .281 with 16 hits, eight runs scored, seven RBIs and five doubles. He also pitched six innings in two games this season, earning a 2-0 record with a 1.50 ERA and nine strikeouts.

“I think we were playing well, it is kind of a small sample size, but the team was starting to click,” Altermatt said. “We were hoping to start playing well during the year, and obviously that’s … not happening.”

While the remainder of his season is over, Ranweiler said that he has been trying to stay busy at home by playing catch with his brother and working out.

“I have my brother [Cole] fortunately, he’s a junior in high school so he’s always able to play catch with me, but the gyms are closed, you can’t go lift,” Ranweiler said. “I mean I have a set of dumbbells here. We got a workout from school they gave us, do whatever you can here with weights, kind of bodyweight stuff, stay flexible, stay as in shape as possible. I do have an elliptical here, so I can do a little cardio stuff, but nothing too much.”

Altermatt said that he’s been working out and playing catch at home with his brothers in his spare time.

“We did get sent a workout, and I do have a couple brothers that are home, so I can go play catch with them or go do some soft toss in the backyard,” Altermatt said. “I’ve been working with my dad for a little bit, but other than that, it’s just been kind of lay low for us … and do your own thing and do what you need to do to keep ready.”

Both players are taking things day by day and are hoping to be able to get back on the baseball field again this summer. Ranweiler and Altermatt both played amateur baseball last season, with Ranweiler playing for New Ulm and Altermatt playing for Lamberton and Stark.

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