Never a dull moment: Anderson uses upbeat personality to be vocal leader for Roughriders
Don’t assume Cole Anderson’s calm and upbeat demeanor means a lackadaisical performance on the field.
Anderson uses his attitude to keep his teammates loose and ready as the Dickinson Roughriders American Legion baseball team begins its season by traveling to play Fargo Post 400 at 4 p.m. today.
“We like to have fun, but still win,” said Anderson, who posted a .286 batting average with five doubles, 24 RBI and 31 runs scored last summer. “I’m just there so they don’t get so uptight. If I know it’s a big game, I’ll be more serious and probably not joke around as much, but still have to do it. Our team doesn’t play as well when we are real uptight.”
Dickinson head coach Cory Hansen said Anderson is definitely the team jokester.
“I probably give him more guff than anybody and he does the same back at me,” Hansen said with a smile. “It’s a lot fun to have him around. He keeps guys on their toes, but he knows when it’s time to get to work, he gets to work.
“He pays attention to detail, which is nice too. What teams are doing here and there, he relays information to the dugout. You wouldn’t think he does that, because he’s kind of a jokester, but he does. He cares about the success of the team. He’s a good teammate.”
Dylan Skabo, the Roughriders’ starting shortstop and pitcher, said Anderson does a good job of mixing the upbeat presence with a sense of seriousness.
“He knows when to be serious and knows when to joke around,” Skabo said. “It’s nice to have that guy who will always be in a good mood and he’ll always bring you up in the dugout. That attitude he has is contagious with the whole team.”
The 2014 Legion season marks Anderson’s final opportunity with a Dickinson baseball program. Because of his birthday, he is unable to return next summer.
Since this is his final hurrah, there’s no joking around about the season goal. Anderson wants to win a state championship.
“We want to go out with that title,” he said. “I don’t want to finish my high school baseball career without a state title. That would be kind of crappy.”
Anderson is coming off a successful high school season with the Dickinson High baseball team. He finished with a .329 batting average with 17 RBI, 16 runs scored, two doubles and one home run. The first baseman also finished with all-West Region and all-state tournament team honors.
He was humbled to be named to both of those teams, but the ultimate goal during the high school season was to win a state championship. The Midgets fell to eventual state champions Bismarck High 6-5 in eight innings during the semifinals. Anderson said the loss was tough.
“That game against Bismarck left a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “All in all, the high school season was a success, because we played really well. It just didn’t happen to go our way at the state tournament.”
Last summer, Anderson split time with James Kary at first base. When Anderson wasn’t at first base, he was in right field. He finished the 2013 summer only committing five errors for a .974 fielding percentage.
Skabo, the Midgets’ starting shortstop, trusts Anderson can pick any errant throw.
“I have 100 percent confidence that any ball hit to him that he will make the play,” Skabo said. “Any ball that I throw to him, he’ll make the play.”
With Kary unable to return this summer, Anderson will assume a majority of the first base responsibilities when he isn’t on the mound. Anderson posted a 1-0 record last season with a 3.42 earned run average. He said it was beneficial to split time with Kary, who was a redshirt freshman for the Minot State baseball team this past season.
“James was very helpful,” Anderson said. “If you were ever down or anything, he would help you out with any questions you had.”
Yet, Hansen said Anderson may not be limited just to first base. Hansen said Anderson might find himself in the infield, outfield or at catcher.
“Cole is one of those guys who would step up — start a game if needed to — and do whatever it takes,” Hansen said. “He’s really worked his butt off. Since he was 13, we’ve worked on his swing and it’s gotten better and better. He’s lifted the weights and put the time in.”
The Roughriders began practice on Monday and Anderson said it’s tough to think this will be his final opportunity to play baseball. He will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall.
Anderson said there isn’t pressure to win a Legion state championship, but an urgency to end his baseball career on a high note.
“I would just be very sad, if we didn’t win it,” he said. “There isn’t any pressure on us to win it, but that’s definitely our one goal is to win that title.”