Jaxon Strinmoen was voted the Todd Oakes Most Valuable Player by his 2022 Spring Grove baseball teammates, one of four awards he received at the July 12 awards presentation. For the second season, the coaches honored him with the Willie Mays Gold Glove award for defense, and he earned a statistics award as the Ted Williams Batting Champion. His teammates also voted him the Lou Gehrig Most Improved honor. Caleb Griffin received the Cy Young Pitching Award, while Jonah Udstuen was the players’ choice for the Ernie Banks Best Teammate Award. Elijah Solum was voted the Cal Ripken, Jr. Rookie of the Year.
Strinmoen and Caleb Griffin were previously named to the All-Section 1A Team and were joined by Solum on the All-Southeast Conference Team. That trio also received Honorable Mention All-Area. Freshman catcher Ezra Griffin received Honorable Mention All-SEC.
The team, with an approximate 3.6 GPA, also earned the state coaches’ Gold Academic Award, one of only nine Class A squads in Minnesota to be so recognized. It was the Lions’ second straight season to earn the highest academic accolade. Individually, 12 of the 13 letter winners were Academic All-Conference, denoting a 3.4 or higher GPA during the third academic quarter. Those scholars were Solum, Strinmoen, Ben Udstuen, Jonah Udstuen, Caleb Griffin, Ezra Griffin, Ty Cleven, Tysen Grinde, Nathan Solberg, Logan Brumm, Zach Brumm and Brandon Jahnke.
Strinmoen (MVP, MIP, Gold Glove, Batting Champion), a sophomore first baseman/pitcher, was a standout on both offense and defense. In the field, he made no errors and further amazed with several outstanding catches in foul territory in addition to often-overlooked saves of in-the-dirt throws to first base. At the plate, his.424 batting average was Spring Grove’s highest in the last four seasons. He also led the Lions in both base hits (25) and doubles (5). On the mound, he had the second-best earned run average (3.06).
Strinmoen was certainly worthy of the Most Improved honor by increasing his batting average from .221 last year to .424 this spring. And even with fewer official at-bats this year, he increased his hits from 15 to 25, runs batted in from 5 to 12 and stolen bases from 10 to 18. He struck out only seven times this year after being fanned a dozen times a year ago.
Caleb Griffin (pitching award), a very versatile junior, played in both the infield and outfield when not on the mound, where he led the conference in strikeouts pitched. For the season, he fanned 86 batters and had a very strong and team-best 1.91 ERA. Incredibly, he gave up only 18 hits during 48 innings. The opponents batted only.110 with Griffin on the mound.
Solum (Rookie of the Year), a sophomore outfielder, led Spring Grove in stolen bases (23) and ranked second in batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.500), base hits (24) and RBI (16). He was third in runs scored (18). The term “rookie” refers to a player who had not lettered previously. “Having him in the lineup this year was like a massive free agent signing,” said coach Chris Strinmoen.
Jonah Udstuen (Best Teammate), a senior and two-year starting second baseman, was called by his coach, “the perfect role model for our junior varsity guys. Dependability, availability and a positive attitude that cannot be coached; it has to come from the player. And he has it. For the past two years, he has been a great player and leader for us.” In 2022, Udstuen shared team captain’s duties with fellow senior Matthew Doering.
Second-year letter winners were senior Jonah Udstuen, juniors Ty Cleven, Nathan Solberg, Caleb Griffin and Logan Brumm along with sophomore Jaxon Strinmoen plus freshmen Brandon Jahnke, Zach Brumm and Ezra Griffin. Earning their first varsity letters were senior Matthew Doering along with junior Tysen Grinde as well as sophomore Elijah Solum plus freshman Ben Udstuen.