ALMOND — Derek Baumgartner took over as starting catcher for the Almond-Bancroft baseball team as a freshman, but could have had the job even earlier if possible. 

“It was obvious then as a seventh-grader that he could have caught for a lot of high school teams,” Eagles coach  Rod Turzinski said. “It was a no-brainer he was going to be a huge asset for us once he got (to high school).”

Baumgartner was an all-Central Wisconsin Conference-10 selection his freshman year. It was the first of a number of postseason honors he has collected in his career that culminated in him being named conference player of the year last spring, when he helped the Eagles to a second straight CWC-10 title. 

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He will get the chance to continue that success at the next level. 

The Eagles senior, who also has been named the team MVP for the Plover American Legion baseball squad the past two summers, made his commitment to the Winona State baseball program official Tuesday afternoon. 

He is the second local player to sign with the Warriors this fall as D.C. Everest pitcher John Breske made his commitment official last Wednesday. 

“There’s a great baseball program over there and I just love the campus. It felt like home when I went down there,” said Baumgartner, who signed a letter of intent with the Division II school. “The (baseball) facilities are great and the coaches are great  I can’t wait to go down there to play. I’ve always dreamed of playing college baseball and for it to actually come true is awesome.” 

Baumgartner was recruited as a catcher and outfielder and selected Winona State over strong interest from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse…