Off the field, Minot Vistas American Legion baseball coach Todd Larson is the leader. On the diamond, that designation belongs to the catcher, whether it's starter Jake Magnuson or first-year backup Braden Lach.
Lach will take over the starting job next year with Magnuson's departure, but for the meantime, he is content with backing up the Bishop Ryan graduate. Lach said he's thankful to have Magnuson to learn from as he's been integral in Lach's development.
"Jake is a really good guy," Lach said. "I've known him for a little bit now and I don't think there's anybody better to learn under than him. He's a great guy and he knows how to play the position really well and it comes pretty natural to him. If I ever have questions it's good to ask him and he almost always knows how to answer."
Lach has seen plenty of playing time in the backup role. He's appeared in 17 games behind the plate and has caught for 13 different pitchers, including Magnuson. Of the 15 pitchers the Vistas have used this season not including Lach's 1 1/3 innings of work against Bismarck on June 25 Alex Mack and Conor Taney are the only ones Lach hasn't caught for.
"He's learning, seeing the game, seeing from Jake's eyes as a catcher," Larson said. "Jake has certainly relayed things on to Braden as far as our pitchers go. Things like how to handle the pitching staff, how to command the infield and how to be a leader."
He's done well behind the plate, committing just one error in 73 chances. Lach was a perfect 10-for-10 in fielding Friday against Williston.
"The catcher is almost always the leader, the shot caller of the team you could say," Lach said. "It's important to be that guy during the game and command the team. Jake does that really well and hopefully under him and under the coaches I can become that person."
Lach has Magnuson to turn to if he has questions, but he also has a family connection on the team in assistant coach Andy Lach. Andy, Braden's uncle, had a decorated career during his time with the Vistas from 1996-98. He holds the Vistas' single-season doubles record with 29, set in 1997. His 59 career doubles are third-most in program history. He was elected into the Minot Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012 as both a player and coach.
Larson said having Andy as an assistant coach is beneficial to Braden's growth as a player.
"Braden looks to Andy and Andy looks to help Braden," he said. "They do a nice job working side by side with each other."
Braden Lach said he still has plenty to work on, especially in the mental aspect. He said he tends to get frustrated when things aren't going his way, which has been the case at the plate. Lach is hitting .136 in 44 at-bats. He's recorded seven RBIs and eight runs, but has struck out 22 times.
"I'm not hitting the ball too well, I have to learn to do that more," Lach said. "I'll put in a lot of work during the offseason and hopefully that will get better and it will go my way next year."
Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.