With Spring Comes Building
Sheyenne Mustangs Fritz and Glanville Lead the Way
by Brent Rogness
Photography by Jeremy Petrick Photography
For baseball fans, the sound of bat on ball is a welcomed harbinger of spring. Baseball season has arrived.
Crack. Crack. Crack.
At West Fargo Sheyenne High School, you could also say that’s the sound of a new baseball team being built. Analogous to a carpenter with a hammer and nails, with every bat-on-ball swing, more experience and seasoning accumulates for the Mustangs as they put in the hours to construct the school’s first-ever varsity season.
At the center of this major build are seniors Tyler Fritz and Michael Glanville, returning All-Eastern Dakota Conference performers who played with the West Fargo Packers as part of a co-op program with Sheyenne last season. A gifted top-of-the-lineup duo with similar skill sets, Fritz and Glanville also form a second-base/shortstop double play combination on defense.
Offensively, Fritz bats lead-off and Glanville hits second, setting the tone for the team. Both have a knack for finding ways to get on base and using their speed to wreak havoc on the basepaths.
And if those similarities aren’t enough, these two are just getting started. Both plan to attend NDSU to pursue engineering majors this fall.
Joel Swanson serves as the ‘foreman’ for the baseball squad at Sheyenne High School, which is in its first year of housing all 9-12 graders within its boundary lines. After running the junior varsity program last season at Sheyenne, the former Shanley baseball coach was installed as the first-ever varsity coach for the Mustangs.
Swanson comes to the program with an intimate knowledge of the EDC, but also enjoys the challenges of starting something new.
“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun. I have great support from parents, the school, and my assistant Ryan Bodell. It’s fun to create your own identity and start your own tradition.”
Fritz and Glanville are utilizing their past experience to work toward a winning culture and atmosphere of excellence in the dugout. Swanson agrees that he couldn’t ask for two better senior leaders in this inaugural year.
“They’ve experienced multiple state tournaments (with the West Fargo Packers team). They’re in contention every year and a lot of times one of the biggest foundations in these kids is giving them the belief and expectation that they should be there. Having Mike and Tyler live and experience it, they can say we’ve been there, so we’ve leaned on them early on,” says Swanson, who’s quick to note some of last year’s JV players have also stepped up admirably to the challenge this spring.
For Fritz, part of the enjoyment comes from breaking in a brand new field and facilities that are a game of long toss away from the school building.
“The new field is really nice and it’s close to the school. The cages are nearby and you can get on the field whenever you want,” he says.
Making it official
On April 9, 2016, the Mustangs were finally let loose for their inaugural varsity game, complete with 30-degree weather and blustery winds blowing in from right-center field.
“It was a hard doubleheader. That first game was a matter of finally getting a chance to see what we have. We can practice and hit in the cage and field ground balls in the gym, but just to see how mentally they came out and would play, it showed,” says Swanson.
Sheyenne overcame the weather and earned a two-game sweep of Devils Lake right out of the gate, managing to plate 21 runs in two games.
“The first game was a really cool experience. Despite how cold it was and what seemed like 50 mile an hour winds,” recalls Glanville.
For Fritz, the wins were nice, but there was also more significance in officially etching Sheyenne as an EDC baseball team.
“It was nice to be out here and represent the colors for Sheyenne for the first time,” says Fritz.
Glanville has enjoyed forming the team identity and making Sheyenne baseball something that everyone in the community can be proud of.
“I like what we have as a team here. We have a lot of talent already here. We have good coaching here,” Glanville says. “The big thing is to have our own field and have our own support. I just love everything about it.”
Making a difference on and off the field
The success of any baseball team largely hinges on an ability to get top-of-the-order guys on base and play solid defense up the middle. Swanson attributes the team’s early-season successes in part to Fritz and Glanville’s ability to execute those offensive and defensive tasks with the same ‘Grade A’ astuteness they practice in the classroom.
“They’re tablesetters. To know that we have two guys who know how to do the little things at an exceptional level. They can turn a double play faster than any pair I’ve ever had in the middle,” Swanson says. “To know you have that leadership and they know where to go in terms of placement, and knowing certain hitters because they’ve seen them before… They’re leading our team in average and are our two main base stealers.”
Swanson also makes a point to mention that Fritz and Glanville’s ability to lead on the practice field makes coaching easier for himself and Bodell.
“I can take care of helping other position players and those two can be on-field coaches in practice,” Swanson says.
Fritz frames leadership as being a matter of taking what he’s learned and sensing a responsibility to pass it on to the second generation of Mustangs. That also includes off-the-field team building such as weekly team meals and occasional basketball games.
“We’re trying to take in what we learned over the past three or four years at West Fargo, what we’ve learned growing up, and we brought it to Sheyenne High. Just being able to represent our own school and be on our own team. It’s quite an honor,” Fritz says.
“We can teach the younger kids what we’ve learned. It’s a big thing as seniors to help with the program and help with the kids. If we don’t succeed, hopefully we can help them succeed in their future,” says Glanville, who adds that he would like to come back to Sheyenne after high school to help coach if the opportunity presents itself.
Glanville relishes his leadership role, which he learned partly by observing a future Hall-of-Fame shortstop. If you’re looking for a hint, Glanville’s jersey number (2) is a dead giveaway. While excelling at Derek Jeter’s position, Glanville is also a starting pitcher.
“When you’re on the mound, you’re the leader of the team,” says Glanville, a staff ace who likes to use his curveball to get ahead in the count and then attack with his fastball. “It’s a lot on your shoulders.”
Not only do Glanville and Fritz perform exceptionally on the field, but they also are intentional in the classroom and in their community. Swanson says he feels very fortunate to have this pair of leaders on his team.
“Tyler and Michael are complete players. They both excel academically, both ‘A’ students, and role models for the younger kids coming up,” says Swanson. “I’ve always stressed that you’re a student athlete and student comes before athlete. These guys are perfect for that role.”
So how far can the Mustangs make it in season one? As Coach Swanson experienced at Shanley after leading a 10-12 team to a 2013 North Dakota state title, all you need is to get on the right hot streak at the right time.
“Anything can happen in the postseason,” Swanson says.
In any scenario, as Sheyenne’s building process continues, a portion of the success surely depends on how well those future engineers can handle a little carpentry this spring.