Spring Sports Preview 2022

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Here’s your

Inside: J2-3 ������������������������������������������������������� Willmar Cardinals J4 ������������������������������������� New London-Spicer Wildcats J5 ������������������������������������������������������������������� ACGC Falcons

guide to the season J6 ������������������������������������������������������������������������BBE Jaguars J7 �������������������������������������������������������������������Benson Braves J8 �����������������������������������������������������������������BOLD Warriors J9 ������������������������������������������������������������������CMCS Bluejays J10 �������������������������������������������Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks J11 ��������������������������������������������������� KMS Fighting Saints J12 �����������������������������������������Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles

J13 ��������������������������������������� Yellow Medicine East Sting J14 ���������������������������������������������������������Litchfield Dragons J15 �����������������������������������������������MACCRAY Wolverines J16 ������������������������������������������������������Minnewaska Lakers J17 ������������������������������������Montevideo Thunder Hawks J18 ���������������������������������������������������� Paynesville Bulldogs J19 ���������������������������������Renville County West Jaguars

Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.

Wishing all area teams the best of luck this season! Play hard and have fun!

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2 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Experienced Cards will aim high Third-ranked Willmar has a 13-player senior class BY TOM ELLIOTT

Lakes and Section 6AA championships and a 22-3 record. WILLMAR — The Willmar lost some great Willmar baseball team talent from that team, is coming off one of including North Dakota the best seasons in the State left-hander Andrew program’s history. And with a little luck and some Baumgartner, Valley City State outfielder Jett continued improvement, Salonek and Valley City the Cardinals hope that State infielder/pitcher 2022 will be another one Hunter Magnunson, as of their best years. well as catcher Dylan They’ll do it with a varsity roster that includes Arndorfer. Baumgartner 13 seniors and one junior. and Salonek were all-state selections. “In Willmar, it is rare But the cupboard is far to have a senior class like from bare. we have this season,” The Cardinals’ No. 2 and said Willmar head coach 3 starters return. That’s Tom DeBoer, who is in senior Ian Koosman, who his eighth season. “I have never coached a team with went 5-1 with a 2.92 earned-run average. He only one underclassman struck out 55 in 38-1/3 on the roster.” The Cardinals have been innings. And, he’s also a fine shortstop who batted ranked third in the state .353 with doubles, 24 in a Class AAA preseason coaches’ poll. That’s after a runs, 19 RBI and eight 2021 that included Central stolen bases. West Central Tribune

Also back on the mound is senior Sam Etterman. Etterman was 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 34 innings. He also catches and plays infield, batting .382 with three doubles,k 18 runs, 30 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Returning starters also include Cayden Hansen and Alex Schramm. Hansen, an infielder/ pitcher, batted .323 with 14 runs and 16 RBI. Schramm, part of an outfield that DeBoer says will be the “fastest in the state,” hit .300 with four doubles,a triple, 16 runs, 20 RBI and eight stolen bases. He’s headed to Minnesota Duluth on a football scholarship. Outfielder Brant Sunder is also back after hitting .333 with 18 runs and four RBI.

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar second baseman Cayden Hansen tags out Bemidji’s Derek Young on a stolen base attempt in Game 1 of a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Bill Tauton Stadium in Willmar.


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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 3

Moving forward together

New coach, new section gives Willmar hope for improvement

File photo

Willmar junior Sam Etterman charges for home before sliding into the plate and scoring his lone run against Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at Delano.


Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar second baseman Hailie Smith makes a throw to first for an out during Game 1 of a Central Lakes Conference doubleheader against Rocori on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at Willmar High School.


the Cardinals overcome their 4-17 record in 2021. They were also 4-11 in the WILLMAR — Under CLC. first-year head coach “Our first couple of Christian Brown, the Willweeks of practice have mar softball team will try been very upbeat, focused and exciting,” Brown said. “We have been able to get out on the new turf fields at the high school since the first week of practice, which has been a game-changer for us.” Six starters return to the lineup, led by the three captains. There’s senior third baseman/catcher Mari Enstad, senior pitcher/shortstop Lily Reed and junior first baseman Zoe Schroeder. “All three of these athletes were chosen by their teammates as leaders of the team on and off the field,” Brown said. “We (the coaches) believe that speaks highly of what they have done in the offseason to improve their skills and to form bonds with the team to help us get the edge. ZOE “We have stressed camaSCHROEDER raderie and hard work since the end of last season and these three have Joe Brown / West Central Tribune proven that they have met Willmar sophomore second baseman Zoe Schroeder the challenge.” Two other seniors snags a pop fly during Game 1 of a Central Lakes Conference doubleheader against Sauk Rapids on are back as starters for Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at Willmar High School. West Central Tribune

to climb up the Central Lakes Conference standings in 2022. An assistant under former coach Shannon Cayler, Brown hopes to help

Willmar. There’s Amelia Reed, who can play at catcher or in the outfield. And, Abby Clancy is back to fill in a utility player role. Another returning starter is back in the middle of the infield in junior shortstop/second baseman Hailie Smith. The early signs have been encouraging for Brown. He said he’s got a large group of players that are new to the varsity program. And, the Cardinals will have a different look in the postseason, switching from Section 5AAA to 8AAA. Willmar’s section field includes: Alexandria; Detroit Lakes; Little Falls; Rocori; and Sauk Rapids. Last year’s 8AAA champion, Sartell, was moved up to Class AAAA. “We are in a new section that we think we will be able to be competitive in,” Brown said. “As a result, we have been pushing a mentality amongst the team to use this season as a way to reset as a program. “Our season focus this year is ‘moving forward together,’ and we really hope to make that a reality.”

The other speedy outfielder is Sam Raitz, the lone junior. “There are some big shoes to fill,” DeBoer said. “But the collection of players that we have this year truly complement each other.” Sergio Fernandez, Jason Malmgren, Carter Schow, Connor Owens,

Ridgely Hulstein, Mason Swanson and Mason Madsen all will find roles. Asked about the large senior class, DeBoer gives credit to the summer program. Most schools Willmar’s size have one VFW team. Willmar has been playing two for a number of years. “That’s why I think we have the numbers that we do,” DeBoer said. The Cardinals hope it adds up to another memorable year.

IAN KOOSMAN Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar's Ian Koosman follows through on a hit during Game 1 of a non-conference doubleheader against Marshall on Monday, May 24, 2021 at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar.

4 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

NLS anxious to improve The Wildcats will be led by four seniors and two juniors in 2022

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

SPICER — Eric Terres and Kyle Lieser enter their third year as co-head coaches of the New London-Spicer baseball program. What they see is a young team anxious to improve on last season’s 4-17 record, compiled while competing in the rugged Wright County Conference’s West Division, where top-ranked and defending state Class AA champion Glencoe-Silver Lake resides. Wildcats to watch include seniors Luke Ruter, Hayden Christopherson, Brody Lien and Kaiden Yeo. Ruter is a center fielder who had a .514 on-base percentage and stole eight bases. “He’s a senior leader who led us offensively and defensively last season,” Terres said. Christopherson is a third baseman/pitcher/first baseman who had 10 hits, including a home run. Lien is an outfielder. Juniors to watch include Gavin Degner and Aeden Andresen. Degner pitches and plays third base. He batted .321 with five doubles and seven stolen bases and also

recorded 28 strikeouts in 24 innings on the mound. “He is a leader offensively, leading us in many categories as a sophomore last year,” Terres said. Andresen is a right fielder and first baseman who had a .315 batting average with one hume run. “He was an offensive

leader and great on the basepaths,” Terres said. “He is a good defender in the outfield or at first base.” There is plenty to sort out on the rest of the team. “We have many underclassmen who will compete for time as well, as well as a host of arms on the mound who will contribute,” Terres said.

PEYTON COAHRAN Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

New London-Spicer pitcher Peyton Coahran fires off a throw during a non-conference game against Paynesville on Friday, May 7, 2021 at Green Lake Diamonds in Spicer.

K C U L D O O G this upcoming sports season!

NLS will bank on its speed Wildcats seek success with four quick, athletic returning starters

BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

NEW LONDON — With four starters back in the fold in 2022, New London-Spicer softball will try to climb out of the Wright County Conference West division cellar. The Wildcats had a rough 2021, going 3-16 overall and 1-12 in the Wright County. In hopes of an improved season, NLS features two strong hitters in its senior class. Sadie Hatlestad led the Wildcats with a .386 batting average in 2021. She’ll see time at catcher and in the infield. “She has the speed to steal bases,” said NLS head coach Melissa Bergeson. “She has a great glove and quick release and will anchor our defense at catcher.” Shortstop/pitcher Nyla Johnson is also back for her final season. She batted .302 last season. “Nyla is a great contact hitter and a smart baserunner,” Bergeson said. “We look to her to lead us defensively at shortstop.”

EMILY RUTER Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

New London-Spicer’s Emily Ruter winds up for a pitch during Friday’s Wright County Conference game against Litchfield at Litchfield.

Some other senior contributors include infielder Courtney Ronning and utility player Caitlin Wileman. In the outfield, junior RaeAnn Holmquist will patrol the grass once again. “(RaeAnn’s) a speedy contact hitter; she can use her speed to get on base,” Bergeson said. “She will also use her speed and strong arm to anchor our outfield defense.” Another junior, Sydney Feist, will fill in a utility role. In the sophomore class,

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Emily Ruter will look to control things in the pitcher’s circle. “As a second-year starter who has worked hard in the offseason, we look for great things from (Ruter) in the circle this season,” Bergeson said. “She has a great bat and can hit for power.” Among the team’s sophomores, Delaney Hanson is slotted at third base while Brianna Wileman and Kendra Gerhardson can play all over the field as utility players.

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 5

New coach will lead ACGC Mike Fellows takes over the Falcons from long-time coach Mike Kingery

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

ACGC’s Logan Straumann takes a swing at a pitch during the Section 3AA championship game against Paynesville on Thursday, June 10, 2021 at Green Lake Diamonds in Spicer.

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

ATWATER — There will be plenty of new faces for the Atwater-CosmosGrove City baseball team after a 2021 season that featured a state Class AA tournament berth. And it starts at the top. Mike Kingery has retired as head coach. Also gone is his son, Josh Kingery, who was one of the top players in the state last season. In their place is new head coach Chris Fellows. He’s an elementary school teacher in the district. And while there will be plenty of new faces, there also will be some familiar ones. There’s shortstop/pitcher Jack Peterson. He batted third for the Falcons last season and was a West Central Tribune All-Area first team member, batting .312 with a .433 on-base percentage, 29 runs and 31 RBI. He had 11 doubles and two home runs. He also was 5-1 on the mound with a 2.61 earned-run average. Also back is powerhitting first baseman Jaxon Behm and catcher Logan Straumann. Straumann made the Tribune’s All-Area second team. Straumann batted .350 with a .505 OBP. he hit .415 with runners in scoring position and had 15 RBI with 20 walks, a team record. He’s also excellent defensively.

ACGC tied for first place with Royalton in the Central Minnesota Conference last year. Each team went 12-2. The Falcons were 22-3 overall, winning the Section 3A title by beating Paynesville 4-0 in the championship game in Marshall. It enabled ACGC to advance to the state tournament for the first time in 20 years. The Falcons fell to Belle Plaine 2-0 in the Class AA quarterfinals in St. Cloud. After the game, Mike

Kingery announced his retirement. He’s a former Major League Baseball player who spent 10 seasons in the big leagues. He played outfield for the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates. His son, Josh, led the state in pitching wins, posting a 13-1 record with 182 strikeouts, four walks. He also hit .455 with seven home runs and 32 RBI.

KEEGAN KESSLER-GROSS Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

ACGC second baseman Keegan Kessler-Gross makes a throw to first during the Class AA state quarterfinals against Belle Plaine on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.

Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

ACGC head coach Brad Nelson II makes a mound visit during in Game 1 at home against Holdingford on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Falcons hope to trend upward ACGC has some returning talent to improve on last season

BY JOE BROWN GROVE CITY — After going winless in 2021, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City is hoping to trend upward in the Central Minnesota Conference standings. “We look to build toward a successful year with our program’s continued improvement,” said Falcons head coach Brad Nelson II. In 13 seasons, Nelson has a 76-129 career record. Last season, ACGC was 0-20, including 0-14 in its first season in the Central Minnesota Conference. The Falcons’ top returning player is junior infielder/pitcher Haley Wilner. In the batter’s box, Wilner led the team in batting average (.522), on-base percentage (.585), slugging percentage (.630), hits (24), doubles (five), total bases (29) and stolen bases (five). Mikaili Johnson, a sophomore outfielder, follows Wilner’s lead on

offense. She was second on the Falcons in 2021 with a .413 average and 19 hits with two doubles, two triples, seven RBIs and 10 runs. Senior Abbie Kragenbring and freshman Kendall Miller are back in the pitcher’s circle after splitting time last year. Kragenbring tossed 55-1/3 innings, followed by 41-1/3 for Miller. The duo combined for 56

strikeouts. Miller also hit for a .270 average. Junior Ally Giese (catcher), junior Taylor Hoekstra (infield), junior Kady Martin (infield) and sophomore Macy Elton (infield) are back as returning starters. Senior Hannah Meyer (outfield), freshman Mackenzie Powers (catcher/infield) and freshman Brooke Schultz (infield) will also be in the mix for ACGC.

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6 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Winter hopes to boost BBE

Jaguars aim to improve 3-18 mark from last season BY JOE BROWN

GAVIN KAMPSEN Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

BBE’s Gavin Kampsen talks with ACGC first baseman Jaxson Behm after getting the Jaguars’ lone hit against the Falcons Monday, May 17, 2021 at Atwater.

BBE hopes to continue the success

BROOTEN — Led by one of the top returning players in the area, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa softball will look to make a move up in the Central Minnesota Conference. In 2021, the Jaguars finished 3-18 overall, including a 2-12 mark in conference play. They finished seventh in the eight-team CMC. They averaged 5.6 runs per game compared to 11.8 runs against per contest. Behind the plate, BBE returns a Class A AllState second teamer and All-Area first teamer in Kylie Winter. The senior catcher hit for a .551 average and a .625 on-base percentage, drawing nine walks compared to three strikeouts in 2021. She tallied 32 hits, 29 runs, 25 stolen bases and 16 RBIs.

Her defense also stood out with a .939 fielding percentage with 89 putouts and 20 assists. “She has a strong arm and does not let many balls pass her,” said Jaguars head coach Eric Primus. Along with Winter, eight other players are back for BBE. At shortstop is senior Kailey Fischer. She hit for a .349 average with a teamhigh 18 RBIs along with 13 runs. She had two triples and a home run. “(Kailey) is not afraid to sacrifice her body if need be,” Primus said. “She has a cannon for an arm (and) she hits with power.” Sophomore Faith Radermacher will be the team’s No. 1 pitcher. She had a 7.45 ERA over 35-⅔ innings last year. Also making a return is freshman right fielder Taylor Shelton.

The Jaguars’ school year has included state tournaments for football, wrestling and basketball BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

ELROSA — It has been a great school year for Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa athletics. BBE’s football team made it to the state tournament for the first time since the merger of the Belgrade and Brooten school districts. The wrestling team qualified for state in the winter and so did the Jaguars’ boys basketball team, which took second in the state. A nice way to wrap up the 2021-22 school year for BBE would be similar success this spring. The BBE baseball team returns a large chunk of

players from a squad that went 6-8 in the Central Minnesota Conference and 12-12 overall. Players to watch on head coach Pat Illies’ squad include Will Van Beck, Easton Hagen, Gavin Kampsen, Blaine Fischer, Tanner Shelton and Talen Kampsen. All contributed last year and were part of a strong American Legion Baseball team last summer. All are seniors except for Shelton and Talen Kampsen, who are juniors. All were members of the state tournament football team. Van Beck, Hagen, Kampsen and Shelton were all members of the basketball team.

Fischer, Jensen and Talen Kampsen are all wrestlers who helped lead the Jaguars to state in that sport. In baseball, BBE should have some pitching depth. Kampsen, Van Beck, Hagen and Shelton all have mound experience. Sophomore Ryan Jensen also should contribute. The conference will be tough. It includes Class AA powerhouses ACGC, Royalton and Paynesville. BBE is a Class A school and plays in Section 6A, which also is tough. It includes New York Mills, which finished second at state last year, as well as Ashby and KerkhovenMurdock-Sunburg.

The Jaguars will also get plenty of production from their eighth-grade class. Among those are: third baseman Bree Radermacher; second baseman Mckenna Lieser; first baseman Kaydence Haider; right fielder Ava Lieser; and utility player Kacey Fischer. “We are a very young team but we have a lot of experience,” Primus said. “We played in a lot of close, tough games last season. Our experience should be a valuable asset to us moving forward into the season.” Primus is entering his third season with the squad. In his tenure, BBE has gone 7-36 but has a 2-3 record in the playoffs. He has a career record of 95 wins and 56 losses, which includes a sixyear stint with Kimball that resulted in state berths in 2016 and ‘17.

Go BBE JAGUAR Athletes! Make this your best season ever!

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KYLIE WINTER Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

BBE’s Kylie Winter connects on a pitch against Paynesville on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 7

New coach, young talent sets the tone for Benson

JV coach Tom Foley takes over a Braves squad with two returning starters

them are freshmen and sophomores. But there’s BENSON — Tom Foley hope for the future, Foley said. There are 12 takes over as head eighth-graders. coach for the Benson “We have a nice baseball team. group of eighth-graders,” He replaces Mark Foley said. Grussing, who retired There are also two after last season when the starters back from a Braves went 7-5 in the senior-dominated 2021 West Central Conference team that includes and 12-10 overall. two players who play “We’re going to be very collegiately: Patrick young and inexperienced,” Minchow at Crown Foley said. College in St. Bonifacius Foley was the JV coach and Sam Lenarz at for the past five seasons. Ridgewater College He’s well aware of the in Willmar. talent in the program. The players back are He wishes had more seniors Isaac Minchow numbers. There are 16 and Dylan Aschemann. players out for baseball “They are the only in grades 9-12. Ten of starters back who played

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

varsity last year,” Foley said. Minchow, Patrick’s younger brother, is the returning starting shortstop who also will pitch. Aschemann was the Braves’ starting left fielder last year and is moving to center this season. Minchow and Aschemann will both pitch. There’s also junior Preston Johnson, a transfer from Dawson-Boyd, as well as sophomore Garrett Lenz. Alex Claussen and Jack Storlien are both freshman left-handers. Catching duties will be covered by Johnson

and ninth-grader Grant Gunlogson. Around the horn, there is junior A.J. Klassen at first base, freshman Zach Wrobleski at second, Minchow at short and Lenz at third. Aschemann anchors the outfield. Junior Reed Larson, senior Sam Thompson and sophomore Mason Moe also will see playing time. Foley relishes the opportunity to be the head coach. “I’ve always been a baseball fan and a guy who wants to keep kids learning baseball,” Foley said. “This is one way to help them learn and enjoy baseball.” Foley expects the West

ISAAC MINCHOW Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Benson’s Isaac Minchow steps into a pitch while in the batter’s box during a non-conference game against RCW on April 30, 2021 at Sacred Heart.

Central Conference to be challenging. “I think it’s going to be a tough conference,” Foley

said. “Everybody plays good baseball. At least they do whenever we get playing.”

Benson is aiming high

Braves aim for the next step after taking second in the section BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

BENSON — The 2021 season saw the Benson softball team make huge BELLA strides. Going 18-8, the WOLTER Braves made it to the Section 6A championship Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune game before bowing out Benson’s Bella Wolter fires a pitch to open the game against against Browerville/Eagle LQPV in Benson on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Valley. Led by a senior battery, Benson is hoping to

emulate, and possibly surpass, last season’s success. Despite losing 16 seniors over the past two seasons, Braves head coach Barb Schwarz knows it’ll take a little bit of time to get the group in full gear. “We are starting a rebuild phase of the program but are excited about the talent we have,”

Schwarz said. “It just takes patience and time to find the right kids for the right spots for the varsity team. We have a lot of younger girls competing for positions in the field as well as adding a solid bat to the lineup at the varsity level.” The top spot in the circle is set with senior Bella Wolter back at pitcher. She returns after

going 17-7 and starting every postseason game last season. She also hit for a .289 average with 15 RBIs. “Bella really can play anywhere on the field but her leadership and pitching will be core to our success,” Schwarz said. “The best thing about Bella is that she is strong

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8 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

New co-op aims for more success RCW, BOLD combine programs, will compete in Camden BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

Joe Brown/West Central Tribune

BOLD’s Tate Sheehan takes a swing at a pitch during Thursday’s West Central Conference game against Minnewaska at Marthaler Field in Glenwood.

Warriors start fresh

Only two starters return for a young BOLD team BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

BIRD ISLAND — BOLD has been one of the area’s top baseball programs for more than a decade, with state Class A titles from 2013 and ‘19 helping fill the school’s trophy case. The Warriors had another strong team in 2021, winning the West Central Conference and going 20-7 overall. They lost to Springfield in the Section 2A final, 4-1. Springfield wound up taking third in the state tournament. But it was a senior-dominated club. There will be many new faces in 2022. “We graduated a talented senior class from last year and we’re going to be reloading this season,” BOLD head coach Brian Kingery said. “With zero seniors and only three


RENVILLE — Highway 212 will be well represented on the softball diamond by the first-year co-op of Renville County West/BOLD. Rachel Ebbers and Heidi Mack will share co-head coaching duties for the Jaguars. RCW was 1-19 in 2021 while BOLD finished 4-15. RCW/BOLD will compete in the Camden Conference and in Section 3AA. Games will be played in both Danube and Olivia. “Both programs are looking forward to the upcoming season,” Ebbers said. “By combining our collective knowledge of the game of softball and our talents, we hope that the co-op between RCW and BOLD will cultivate a competitive edge, strengthening our athletes as well as our programs.” While the Jaguars look to find their optimal lineup, they have a trio of returning players looking to lead the way. From BOLD, senior Caylee Weber is back at a top offensive weapon. In 2021, Weber hit for a .435 average with 22 RBIs and 19 runs scored. She connected with two home runs, eight doubles and three triples. She also showcased her speed on the basepaths with 19 stolen bases. Then from RCW, twin juniors Holly and Jennifer Bratsch return to the mix. Holly hit for a .444 average and a 1.004 on-base-plus slugging with 15 runs and six RBIs. She also was a menace on the

Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune

BOLD’s Maddy Brummer hit a two-run RBI triple at home against Benson on Thursday, May 20, 2021

bases with 20 stolen bases. Holly was also RCW’s primary pitcher with 57-1/3 innings of work. Jennifer finished with a .364 average with 11 runs and 13 stolen bases. “Holly, Jennifer and Caylee are versatile and athletic softball players,” Ebbers said. “They lead

by example through their hard-working ethics and commitment to their team. All three demonstrate knowledge of the game and are natural leaders on the softball field. They encourage teammates to stay positive and push themselves to be better athletes.”


BOLD: Page 9 Joe Brown/West Central Tribune

BOLD third baseman Carson Edwards makes a throw to first during a nonconference game against Nicollet on May 14, 2021 at Bird Island.

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

RCW pitcher Holly Bratsch lines up a toss during Game 1 of a Camden Conference doubleheader against MACCRAY on Monday, May 10, 2021 at Raymond.

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 9

Bluejays will be all about pitching and defense CMCS returns two seniors and five juniors for promising 2022 season

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune


looking at Presley Nygaard, Elle Krusemark and Brittany Flower to fill the vacant spots. Schwarz is also looking for a bounceback season from outfielder Torie Andrews after dealing with injuries throughout her junior season. “My coaching staff is starting this year as a new journey, building the character and culture of this team,” Schwarz said. “It will matter what type of leadership the upperclassmen bring to the program and how well players embrace hard work to get better. “We are excited to get started.”


and has a 201-71 career record. The Warriors also were in the state tournament in 2012 and ‘14 under his direction and would have been a favorite to repeat as state champion in 2020 had the season not been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The challenge for this year’s team is continuing the outstanding tradition. “We have talent, but we are very inexperienced,” Kingery said. “So, we are hoping to improve into a competitive team when playoffs roll around.”

“She found her bat during her junior season, batting over .400 consistently From Page 7 throughout the season with a great postseason mentally and can handle tournament.” it. (She) loves to compete The Braves also had and have the ball.” senior leadership in the Behind the plate, Wolter will have her catcher back infield and outfield. Madi Wrobleski will fill in at in senior Adysen Himley. She was one of the Braves’ second base while Lexi Simmons will patrol the top bats in 2021 with grass in the outfield. a .421 average, a 1.009 “(Madi) is quick turning on-base-plus-slugging a double play and she with 32 hits and eight brings speed to the bases,” doubles. Her defense Schwarz said. “Lexi plays is also paramount to outstanding defense and Benson’s efforts. I believe she will suprise “Adysen is an amazing catcher; her arm strength some this season with success at the plate.” throwing to bases is Elsewhere on the one of the best in the conference,” Schwarz said. infield, Schwarz is a 6-2 junior third baseman and first baseman; Sam Sigurdson, a 6-2 From Page 8 junior pitcher; and Mason Uhlenkamp, a junior first juniors, we are going to be a young team this spring.” baseman. Also noteworthy are: The two starters back sophomore center fielder are Tate Sheehan and Max Benson; sophomore Owen Flann. Sheehan is second baseman Hunter a sophomore catcher and pitcher. Flann is a catcher Malvin; freshman shortand outfielder and the son stop/pitcher Jack kaiser; freshman second baseman of assistant coach Derek Flann, BOLD’s head foot- Daylan Weber; freshman outfielder Kaden Fischer; ball coach and activities and Hayden Edwards, an director. Players to watch include eighth-grader who plays third and first base. sophomore Rylan Gass, a Kingery has been the 6-foot-1 pitcher and first baseman; Carson Edwards, coach for 11 seasons

PRINSBURG — The Central Minnesota Christian baseball team will be on the young side in 2022, with two seniors. But, both are good. They are outfielder Spencer Vanderpol and infielder Skylar Zwart. “They’re the seniors who will lead this team,” said Bluejays head coach Jordon Daugherty, who begins his fourth season. “They’ll be key to a lot of things we do. “But, we’ll lean on our juniors. We have a lot of two-year starters in that group. It’ll be very exciting to see what they can do.” The junior class includes Josh Nelson (P/3B/C), Ethan Bulthuis (P/SS/CF),

Trenton Bulthuis (1B/C/P), Peyton Meyer (OF) and Max Muzix (P/OF). They’ll be aided by sophomores Seth Swart (P/3B), Ben Ryks (1B/3B), Braelin Rinne (OF) and Kadin Dehmlow (C/P/3B). Swart and Rinne are both two-sport athletes in the spring. Swart, the younger brother of Skylar, plays golf. Rinne runs track. Three freshmen also are expected to contribute: Drew Duininck (SS/CF/P), Wesley Fussy (SS/2B) and Riley Broberg (P/OF). The group hopes to make up for the loss of 2021 graduates Blake Greenwaldt, Moise Daugherty and Trevor Post. That group led a squad that went 4-7 in the Camden Conference and 7-9 overall.

“Once we get going and playing, we have the talent to get on a roll and whip out a few W’s in a row,” said the coach, a 2010 CMCS graduate. “We’re going to be all about our pitching and defense.” The challenge will be to provide enough offense to support the pitching and defense. “I think our biggest challenge will be our confidence in our hitting,” Daugherty said. “We had some trouble hitting last year because we were so young and it didn’t really get any better during the summer. We need to get started and see what we can do (offensively). You can only get so much out of the (batting) cage.”


Joe Brown/West Central Tribune

Central Minnesota Christian’s Kadin Dehmlow takes off for second in a stolen base attempt during a Camden Conference game against Dawson-Boyd on Thursday, May 13, 2021 at Prinsburg.

10 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Blackjacks hope that experience counts Blackjacks look to build off potential Seven returning starters lead Dawson-Boyd in its hopes for a good season


(who) will help us out this year,” said head coach West Central Tribune Daren Swenson, who is in DAWSON — Though his sixth season leading 2021 was a struggle, there Dawson-Boyd. He’ll be is some hope for Dawsonassisted by Josh Staab. Boyd baseball. Brayden Hahn is a The Blackjacks return senior catcher, pitcher and utility player who batted .436 (17 of 39) with a .500 on-base and .590 slugging percentage. Braxton Hahn is a senior infielder/ outfielder and pitcher who batted .214 with six stolen bsaes. Coide Johnson is a senior first baseman and pitcher for the Blackjacks, who were BRAYDEN 1-10 in Camden HAHN Conference play and 3-11 overall. Johnson Joe Brown / West Central Tribune batted .390 (16 of 43) Dawson-Boyd’s Brayden Hahn follows through on a swing with a .419 on-base and a strong nucleus led by Brayden and Braxton Hahn, Aiden Swenson, Blake Thompson and Codie Johnson. “We have seven letterwinners returning

during a Camden Conference game against Central Minnesota Christian on Thursday, May 13, 2021 at Prinsburg.

DB BOYS: Page 13

D-B returns 10 letterwinners in 2022

BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

DAWSON — The Dawson-Boyd softball team will have 10 returning letterwinners in the team’s hopes of going up the Camden Conference standings. The Blackjacks were winless in conference play in 2021 at 0-17. They finished 1-18 ALLI overall. ESTLING D-B will have a new head coach at the helm in Kelly Wente. While Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune this is her first year in the Dawnson-Boyd’s Alli Estling throws the batted ball to first base head position, she’s been in a game against Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Thursday, an assistant/JV coach for April 22, 2021 at the KMS Elementary School in Murdock. 10 seasons. “We are looking forward Other returning “We have a young team to this season to get sophomores include: with a lot of potential,” started.” catcher/infielder Madison Wente said. “The girls Of the returning Peterson; infielder Taylen have a positive attitude, letterwinners, five Jorgenson; outfield have been working are sophomores. That hard and have made Hayley Anderson; and group is led by pitcher/ improvements in a short amount of time. infielder Alli Estling. DB GIRLS: Page 13

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KMS looks like a contender Fighting Saints open season with a No. 2 ranking in state BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

SUNBURG — Looking for a state title contender? The Kerkhoven-MurdockSunburg Fighting Saints might be your team. KMS is ranked seventh in the Class A pre-season rankings released by the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association. The Fighting Saints have five starters back from a team that went 10-0 in the Camden Conference and 19-2 overall, including Alex Call. The senior left-hander is one of the top pitchers in

the state in Class A. He’s also a fine hitter and has committed to Bethel University. “(We’re) ready to get back out there and continue on from a strong season last year,” KMS head coach Wade Adamson said. “We have a strong nucleus on the mound and in the field, with bats that are showing promise.” Call batted .412 with a .605 on-base percentage. He had 29 RBI, 27 runs and 18 stolen bases. On the mound, he was 8-1 with 108 strikeouts in 51-⅔ innings pitched.

KMS continues to aim high Fighting Saints hope to contend for conference, section titles BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

MURDOCK — In 2021, Kerkhoven-MurdockSunburg maintained its standing as one of the top softball teams in the area. The Fighting Saints went 20-6 overall, including 15-3 in the Camden Conference. KMS played its way through the consolation bracket to reach the Section 3A championship before eventually falling

to Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian, which went on to take third place at state. Hoping to maintain that success, the Fighting Saints bring back several pieces from last season’s team with the hope of reaching state for the first time since 2013. KMS has to replace three key cogs from 2021, including a Class A AllState second teamer in

ELSA GJERDE Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg’s Elsa Gjerde bats against Dawson-Boyd on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at the KMS Elementary School in Murdock.

His earned-run average was 0.542. Opponents batted .126 against him. He’s already the two-time Camden Conference Player of the Year. He’s clearly a player to watch, whether he’s pitching or playing center field. “(He’s a) dominant pitcher,” Adamson said. “(And he’s) hitting very strong as well.” Another player to watch is Wylee Lottman, a senior catcher and pitcher who batted a team-best .440 with a .556 OBP. Included were 25 runs, 13 RBI and nine stolen bases. He was shortstop Maret Gjerde (.483 average, 47 runs, 23 RBIs). There’s also replacing left fielder Halie Nichols (All-State honorable mention, .365 average, 37 runs, 19 RBIs, 16 stolen bases) and pitcher/second baseman Lauren Krieger (15-6 record, 89 strikeouts, two no-hitters; 24 RBIs, 38 runs, 12 stolen bases). Leading the returning players is junior center fielder Shakira Olson. She was an All-State honorable mention after hitting for a .367 average with 38 runs and 29 RBIs with four doubles and four triples. She also had 17 stolen bases. KMS brings a pair of seniors back in pitcher/ infielder Grace Collins (2-0 record, .235 average) and catcher Karli Jensen (.231 average). Along with Olson, four key juniors return for the Fighting Saints. There’s right fielder/second baseman Josie Gjerde (.367 average), third baseman Elsa Gjerde (.258 average), catcher Katlyn Peters (.317 average) and first baseman Julia Carlson.

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 11

7-1 as a pitcher with a 2.159 ERA, striking out 43 in 35-⅔ innings. He held opponents to a .184 batting average. “(He’s an) excellent defensive catcher,” Adamson said. Aos back are: junior outfielder/pitcher Isaac Rudningen, junior infielder/pitcher Jaiden Henjum and sophomore ALEX infielder/catcher/pitcher CALL Jared Cortez. Rudningen batted Joe Brown / West Central Tribune .419 with a .538 OBP, 32 KMS pitcher Alex Call looks on after a pitch during a runs and 17 stolen bases. Camden Conference game against LQPV on Thursday, Cortez was a .328 hitter April 29, 2021 at Willy Reigstad Field in Sunburg. with 20 RBI, 21 runs and seven stolen bases. Henjum had a 3.50 ERA Adamson says, is Hunter “(He’s) really developed in 10 innings with nine Kallstrom. He’s an physically and has strikeouts. He batted .208. outfielder/first looked good in the cage,” baseman/pitcher. Adamson said. A player to watch, Sophomore Madison Anderson will also be a key contributor both in the circle and in the outfield. She hit for a .353 average while going 3-0 as a pitcher. Other players to watch out for include: junior infielder Avery Joyce;

sophomore outfielder Olivia Noble; junior infielder Amber Winzenburg; sophomore Eben Overcash; sophomore infielder Kya Oakes; sophomore outfielder Liv Aasen; sophomore catcher Caleigh Wilke; freshman pitcher

Abby Holtkamp; freshman infielder Emily Wagner; and freshman infielder Karlee Danielson. And back on the bench for KMS is head coach Eilee Suter. Going into her 29th season, Suter has a career record of 498-168.

Best of luck to all the area 2022 Spring Sports Teams!! 1300 5th St. SE. Willmar, MN (320) 235-2485

12 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Talented LQPV is thinking big

Experienced Eagles start with Schirm

Eagles are led by Rylee Sawatzky, Tori Bungarden, strong supporting cast


Senior center fielder is one of nine returning starters for LQPV

West Central Tribune

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

LQPV’s Landon Schirm (4) fist-bumps teammate Blake Wollschlager after scoring a run in the first inning of a Camden Conference game against KMS on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at Willy Reigstad Field in Sunburg.

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

MADISON — He’s Lac qui Parle Valley’s leading returning hitter who also led the Eagles in hits, triples, runs and stolen bases. He’s Landon Schirm and one of the reasons LQPV head coach Bart Hill is optimistic about the 2022 season. “Obviously, Landon Schirm leads the returning starters in many offensive categories and is arguably the best center fielder around with his speed and ability to get a jump on the ball,” Hill said. “In addition, his speed on the base paths will create havoc on defenses.” Schirm batted .350 with a .473 on-base percentage, going 21 of 60 at the plate with four doubles, a triple, seven RBI, 18 runs and 13 stolen bases. He’s the only returner who hit better than .300 for LQPV, which went 8-3 in the Camden Conference last season with an 11-10 overall record. The Eagles finished in the final four of Section 3A. Schirm is one of nine returning starters for LQPV. They are seniors Avery Wittnebel (P/LF), Blake Wollschlager (P/1B), Kadyn Fernholz (Catcher),

BLAKE WOLLSCHLAGER Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

LQPV pitcher Blake Wollschlager fires off a pitch during a Camden Conference game against KMS on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at Willy Reigstad Field in Sunburg.

Schirm (P/CF), Tyler Schickedanz (RF), Dain Mortenson (2B) and Darrick Molden (3B/1B). Also back is junior Ethan Schommer (3B/SS). Dyllon Geiser, a sophomore pitcher/shortstop, also would have returned but will miss the season due to injury, Hill said. “Avery Wittnebel and Blake Wollschlager will look to improve upon their stellar junior years on the mound and may have to be leaned on more, considering our sophomore pitcher, Dyllon Geiser, will not play this spring,” Hill said. “Kaiden Allpress, Landon Schirm and Joseph Ramsbacher will have to log more innings on the mound this

spring if we want to be more competitive.” Wittnebel was 3-2 with a 0.96 earned-run average. He struck out 59 and walked 20 in 43-⅔ innings. Wollschlager was 3-3 with two saves. He had a 1.13 ERA, striking out 74 and walking 29 in 47-1/3 innings. Geiser threw 30 innings as a freshman, going 2-3 with a 2.10 ERA. Other players to watch are juniors Joseph Ramsbacher (P) and Charles Rolfsmeier (OF) and senior Hunter Conn (OF). Conn, a basketball star, is out for baseball for the first time. Hill is in his 25th year as head coach and has a 364-204 record.

MADISON — Off the heels of a Camden Conference championship in 2021, Lac qui Parle Valley brings back eight starters in its quest for a deep postseason run. Last season, the Eagles went 20-5. This year, they will have a new coach at the helm as RYLEE Scott Sawatzky takes over SAWATZKY for Janet Larsen. Helping LQPV’s efforts this season is the return Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune of the conference MVP in LQPV pitcher Rylee Sawatzky delivers a pitch against Benson on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. senior Rylee Sawatzky. The Eagles’ top pitcher, spirit and a drive to help with her fielding ability Rylee was 16-5 last season others be the best players to make it hard for with eight shutouts and they can be.” opponents to get on base five no-hitters. She had At third base, Tori when hitting the ball at a 1.38 ERA with 181 Bungarden is hoping her. Her glove was golden strikeouts compared to for a bounce-back year last season as she played 55 walks in 119 innings. after missing six games error free. She is also a At the plate, Rylee hit last season due to injury. very good offensive player. for a .450 average and The team MVP in 2021, … Tori is the kind of player a 1.195 on-base-plusBungarden hit .517 with every coach wants at third slugging percentage with a 1.179 OPS with four base.” 11 doubles, one triple, one doubles, two triples, 20 Other returning home run, 32 RBIs and 34 runs and 19 RBIs. She seniors to the starting runs. also had a 1.000 fielding lineup include catcher/ “Rylee has the ability to percentage. This will be her outfielder Tayler Kittelson dominate in the circle,” fifth year starting in the and second baseman/ Scott said. “With a strong hot corner. outfielder/pitcher Addy defense behind her, this “She is tough as nails Bonn. team will be difficult at third base,” Scott said. In just her second season to score runs on. She is “Her ability to field hardof softball, junior Taylor motivated to succeed and hit balls and bunts makes Shelstad is slated to play at encourages her teammates her one of the best in the shortstop and pitcher. to succeed as well. She has area at third base. Her strong arm matches up LQPV: Page 19 a great work ethic, team

ORTHOPEDIC EXPERTS FROM HEAD TO TOE. Appointments: 320.214.7355


YME plans on another successful season The Sting have six returning starters from a section runner-up squad


second-team selection Tarrick Rupp, Nahum last year. He’s a returning Tarin and Owen Torvick. West Central Tribune There is also a big GRANITE FALLS — The center fielder and pitcher. The Sting, in fact, return sophomore class that Yellow Medicine East all three of their top includes Drew Almich, Sting have enough talent back to make them believe pitchers from last year. Adam Stengel, Jordan “(We) are excited to see Bakkelund, Owen it’s going to be a very good how our younger players baseball season. Cherveny, Connor Fagen have grown and improved Six starters return and Andrew Flaten.” their skills,” Schulte from a squad that posted Schulte is in his 11th said. “We will need our a third-place finish in season as head coach. His inexperienced players the Camden Conference, assistants are Jake Ruter, going 7-4 and made a long to play significant and Curt Kvam and Jordan postseason run, finishing important roles this year.” Thompson. It’s safe to say Players to watch include second in Section 3A that YME is optimistic senior Israel Eakes and with an 18-8 record. The juniors Landon Anderson, about the season. Sting fell to Adrian 4-3 in the championship game of 3A, falling just short of their first state tournament berth as YME. “In losing six seniors who played a significant role in our success, we will be looking to our returning players to provide leadership,” YME head coach Trevor Schulte said. Back are seniors NIKSON Nickson Knapper and KNAPPER Isaac Jimenez and juniors Cody Dahlager, Nolan Joe Brown / West Central Tribune Hildahl, Jake Odegard YME shortstop Nikson Knapper lines up a throw to and Bryce Sneller. first base for an out during a Camden Conference Dahlager was a West game against LQPV on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at Central Tribune All-Area Richter Field in Granite Falls.


Three juniors are back in the dugout. MaKaylee From Page 10 Wente is back at catcher, and Avery Peterson will be in the outfield. Kate infielder/outfielder Dahl will bring experience Rachel Jorgens. back to the infield. “Alli was our main “Kate is an all-around pitcher last year and has solid player,” Kelly really been working hard Wente said. “(We’re) and putting in the time,” Wente said. “I am excited to looking to see strong see her back in the circle.” at-bats from her.”

The senior class features two letterwinners. There’s outfielder Madison Hansen and pitcher/outfielder Alivia Haas. “Alivia is one of our seniors that did not get much of a chance to pitch last year,” Kelly Wente said. “She has been working hard. (We’re) looking for her to throw some strikes this season.”

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 13

YME tries to lean on experience Sting have six starters back from 2021

BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

GRANITE FALLS — A mix of youth and experience will occupy Yellow Medicine East’s softball roster in 2022. Six starters are back for the Sting as they try to improve on an 8-13 overall record, including 8-10 in the Camden Conference. Two seniors are back in the fray for YME, starting with center fielder Yansi Flores. A three-year starter, Flores hit for a .309 batting average last year. “She sees the ball well off the bat,” said Sting 10th-year head coach Jen Sneller. “She’s quick in the field and aggressive on the bases. We’re going to be looking to her to lead the outfield this season.” The other senior, Jenna Weir, will provide a veteran presence at pitcher. Two juniors are back in the lineup for YME from last season. With a .438 average

DB BOYS From Page 10

.415 slugging percentage. He stole 12 bases. Senior outfielder Aric Gruwell, senior utilityman Ryan Lund, junior outfielder/ pitcher Aiden Swenson, sophomore infielder/ pitcher Blake Thompson and freshman second baseman Kade Solem also return. Thompson also had a big year at the plate, batting. 436 with a .560 on-base and .462 on-base percentage. He stole 10 bases. Swenson stole a teamleading 14 bases and hit


Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

YME’s Hope Stark races toward third base during Game 1 of a Camden Conference doubleheader against MACCRAY on Monday, May 17, 2021 at Granite Falls and 20 RBIs last season, Hannah Stark will provide a big bat at third base. “Hannah plays a solid third base with a great arm,” Sneller said. “We will be looking to her for being a leader in the infield and at the plate this season.” Offering some versatility in the infield is junior Aria Peters. With a .279 average last season,

Peters can play at either shortstop or catcher. “She’s very aggressive behind the plate and at shortstop,” Sneller said. “Aria has amazing range and a strong arm on the field.” A pair of eighth graders will be in the lineup as returning starters for YME in first baseman Hope Stark and pitcher/ outfielder Bayli Sneller.

.256 with a .408 on-base percentage. The infield of Brayden and Braxton Hahn, Johnson and Thompson all return. The Hahns and

Johnson have started for two seasons. Swenson is a two-year starter in the outfielder and Gruwell has started for one season.

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Dawson-Boyd's Braxton Hahn fires off a pitch during a Camden Conference game against Central Minnesota Christian on Thursday, May 13, 2021 at Prinsburg.

14 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Dragons focus on section title

Dragons aim for more titles

Litchfield hopes to continue streak of Wright County championships BY TOM ELLIOTT

things that need to be sorted out after the DragWest Central Tribune ons lost their top three LITCHFIELD — The pitchers from a 16-7 Litchfield Dragons have squad in 2021. won the Wright County “I think, based on our Conference West Division recent and historical performances, our goals remain the same as in past years: to compete and win the conference and section titles,” said Jeff Wollin, who in 32 years as Litchfield’s head coach has compiled a 393-325 career record. “ It’s no easy task. Glencoe-Silver Lake, which didn’t win the Wright County West, won the BEAU state Class AA title. WESELOH Noah Bush of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Joe Brown / West Central Tribune another Wright County Litchfield third baseman Beau Weseloh sets up to field a West power, was named grounder during a Wright County Conference game against Minnesota’s Mr. Baseball championship the last two times they could, in 2019 and 2021. They’d like to believe they can do it again, though there are some

New London-Spicer on Friday, April 23, 2021 at Green Lake Diamonds in Spicer.


Litchfield hopes to improve on last year’s runner-up finish in 3AA

BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

LITCHFIELD — The Litchfield softball team was on the doorstep of making the state tournament for the first time since 1995. But Pipestone had other plans, winning two games in a row in the Section 3AA championship to eliminate the Dragons. The Arrows went on to take fourth place at the Class AA state tournament. Despite losing five starters from last season’s team, Litchfield hopes to be back in the hunt for a section championship “This year’s success depends on how well some of the underclassmen can step up to the challenge,”


Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Litchfield’s Grace Braaten high-fives teammate Izzy Pennertz after scoring a run in the first inning of a Section 3AA playoff game against St. James on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at the Schwans Regional Amateur Sports Complex in Marshall.

said Dragons head coach Luke Braaten. In nine seasons, Braaten has a record of 64-86. “We are looking to compete for the


ATTITUDE!! Baseball | Softball Tennis | Golf Track & Field

Wright County West championship and to make another good run in Section 3AA.”

DRAGONS: Page 15

MACCRA Y is solid at the top Wolverines return five starters, including three all-section picks



as the state’s outstanding senior. Six of the top 20 teams in MinnesotaScore.net’s QRF power rankings were from the Wright County West. “In my slightly biased opinion, we played in the toughest AA conference in the state and the strongest AA section in the state,” Wollin said. Four starters return. Threel are senior

MACCRA Y has some veterans Wolverines hope to replace two senior leaders to improve


West Central Tribune

RAYMOND — Five starters return, all with impressive portfolios, including all-section performers Isaac Strommer, Brooks Asche and Dreyer Homan. It’s one reason the MACCRAY baseball team believes it can improve on last year’s 9-2 Camden Conference and 16-4 overall record. Stormmer is a fiveyear starter at shortstop who had a .964 fielding percentage and a .288 batting average in 2021. Asche is a three-year starter in the outfield and also a key pitcher. He also earned All-Camden honors while posting an 8-2 record with a 1.07 earnedrun average. He struck out 56 in 52 innings and also batted .362 with 20 RBI. Homan is a three-year starter at third base and pitcher. He also was on the all-conference team. He had a 4-1 pitching

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 15

West Central Tribune


MACCRAY’s Isaac Strommer swings at an approaching pitch in Montevideo on Friday, May 21, 2021.

record with a 0.683 ERA. He struck out 63 in 41 innings and also batted .371 with 17 RBI and 19 runs. Also returning is senior Gavin Husman (2B/OF) and junior Joe Heidecker (1B). Husman’s a twoyear starter and a solid second baseman with a .953 fielding percentage. Heidecker is another twoyear starter who batted

.298 with 10 RBI as a sophomore. Two players to watch are junior outfielder Emery Aker and sophomore catcher/ pitcher Garrett Struxness. Head coach Nate Hebrink is in his 11th season with the Wolverines and has an 87-77 career record. His assistants are Tyler Wrede and Trent Carlson.

captains. They are catcher/second baseman Bauer Wahl, shortstop/ third baseman Daniel “Winky” Estrada, pitcher/ third baseman/first baseman Beau Weseloh. The fourth starter back is Caden Besemer, a junior pitcher/catcher/ infielder/outfielder. Eight players figure to contribute. They include five juniors: Connor Taber (IF), Calvin Jones (IF/P), Bradley Larson (P/C/OF), Owen Carlson (P/OF) and Ashton Sullivan (P/OF).

Sophomores Hunter Schultz (OF/P) and Jack McCann (OF/IF) and freshman Anthony Estrada (3B/OF/C) all should be key varsity players. “Although lacking in varsity experience, this is a group that has played a lot of baseball and had some success in the spring and summer at various levels,” Wollin said. “The big question is how soon they can come together as a team and adjust to the varsity level.”

RAYMOND — Eight returning starters are back in the dugout for the MACCRAY softball team. There’s still some things to sort out at the start of the season, but the goal is clear for the Wolverines: improve last year’s 6-15 record. GABBY “We lost two strong RANDT leaders and I am trying to restructure Joe Brown / West Central Tribune the infield,” said MACCRAY center fielder Gabby Randt snags the ball for an MACCRAY head coach out during Game 1 of a Camden Conference doubleheader Nancy Thoma, who is entering her 44th year as against RCW on Monday, May 10, 2021 at Raymond. coach. One of Thoma’s sophomores Erika Pieper, hit for a .444 average assistants, Brain Brandt, with 19 RBIs. Behind Greta Meyer and Tayte is in his 33rd season Nokleby. Pieper returns her is Lizzie Koenen, coaching. who finished with a .375 after hitting for a .275 Thoma added, “We will average. Gabby Randt is average last season. be a mixture of speed Thoma is also looking another senior with an and power but we’re still ability to drive in runs for strong contributions young overall.” from four newcomers: with 18 RBIs in 2021. Among the core of junior Layla OwenJasmine Colby also returning players are Dobmeier; freshman returns for her senior four seniors. Regan Aker; freshman year. In that quartet, Mia Schubert; and Junior Hady Olivia Naatjes is the top eighth-grader Reyna Schoffmann is back on returning hitter. She Mendoza. the field along with

DRAGONS From Page 14

A lynchpin in Litchfield’s lineup will be senior pitcher Taylor Draeger. An All-Area second teamer, AllSection and Class AA All-State honorable mention, Draeger had a 16-6 record with 124 strikeouts and a 2.13 ERA. It will be her fourth

year as a starting pitcher. Junior Liv Holmgren will anchor the infield at shortstop. Named AllConference honorable mention in 2021, Holmgren hit for a .346 average while tallying 30 runs and 12 RBIs with 11 doubles. Three other starters return for the Dragons. At third base, senior Britney Prahl will be tasked with holding down the hot corner. She

batted .231 with 17 runs and 11 RBIs, collecting four doubles. A pair of juniors also are back in Dragon green. Ryanna Steinhaus is back in center field. She drove in 15 RBIs and nine runs on a .221 average. Then at first base is Izzy Pennertz. In 19 games, Pennertz hit for a .295 average with 18 RBIs and seven runs. She also had seven doubles.

16 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

New coach calls the shots at Minnewaska

Lakers looking for improvement

Long-time youth coach Joe Alexandria takes over a promising Lakers squad

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

GLENWOOD — Longtime youth coach Joe Alexander takes over as head varsity baseball coach at Minnewaska, which has the makings of a very strong team in 2022. “It’s exciting to be at the top of the program,” Alexander said. “The only thing I complain about here is the weather.” Alexandria played for Minnewaska when the school first opened in 1992 and also was a member of the ‘93 and ‘94 squads. He played baseball at

Northland Community College and then finished up his schooling at South Dakota State in 1999. Since then, he has had two stints as an American Legion Baseball coach, as well as coaching youth and Junior Legion in the area. He replaces Brian Gruber, who retired after leading the Lakers to a 13-10 record in 2021, including a 7-5 mark in the West Central Conference. There are five returning starters, including three Johnson brothers. “I call them the Johnson & Johnson & Johnson Law Firm,” Alexander quipped.

DALTON FRIEDRICHS Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Minnewaska left fielder Dalton Friedrichs runs after a pop fly for an out during Thursday’s West Central Conference game against BOLD at Marthaler Field in Glenwood.

Twin brothers Torii and Hunter Johnson are seniors who will be expected to lead a young squad. Torii plays middle infield and pitches. Hunter is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder. P.J. Johnson is a junior infielder/catcher/ pitcher. Also back is ace pitcher Jacob Blaier, a senior who Johnson said is a “five-tool player. He’s a really good athlete in football and made state in wrestling. He’s our best player.” Also returning is sophomore catcher Dylan Alexander, the coach’s son, who began starting midway through his freshman year. Newcomers to watch are: senior outfielder Logan Rood, junior Jack Larson (IF/P) and Conner Stein and sophomores Jack Majerus (OF) and Nathan Dell (IF/P). Key for the Lakers will be developing pitching depth after Minnewaska lost its top three pitchers from last year, including Mitchell Gruber, Aaron Ver Steeg and Darion Alexander. Ver Steeg now plays baseball at Concordia-Moorhead. Alexander, also one of the coach’s sons, plays for Bismarck State College in North Dakota. There’s plenty of reasons for optimism. The Starbuck legion team went to state last summer while the junior legion squad won the state Class A title. “We’re extremely athletic,” Joe Alexander said. “Our off-season weight program and batting cages are really paying off.”

Minnewaska hopes to get better at pitching, defense for a successful season

Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune

Minnewaska’s Grace Larson swings at an oncoming pitch on Monday, May 24, 2021 in Montevideo.

BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

GLENWOOD — The mission is simple for the 2022 Minnewaska softball team: improve from last season. In 2021, the Lakers were 5-14 overall and 2-10 in the West Central Conference. Second-year head coach Jason Weber wants his team to ascend up the standings. “Expectations for this season are to be better than last season,” Weber said. “We struggled with pitching and in the field, which with an entire summer season we hope to improve on.” Minnewaska will have a pair of all-conference infielders back in the fray. Senior Olivia Richards is a four-year starter and will occupy shortstop. Then at first base is Maddy Meulebroeck. Like Richards, she’s a team captain. She was also AllWest Central and an AllSection 3AA pick. “Our strengths will be our senior leadership and hitting,” Weber said. “We return five starters from


Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune

Sophomore Grace Jensen pitched all three innings for Minnewaska in what would be the team’s final game of the season on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 in Litchfield.

last year with multiple years’ experience.” Brooklyn Larson (second base/third base/outfield) and Brenna Larson (pitcher/second base) are seniors back in the starting lineup. Another returning player is sophomore catcher Grace Larson. A goal for Weber is to strengthen Minnewaska’s battery. “Areas to improve on (are) pitching and defense,” Weber said. “We allowed too many free bases on walks and

hit batters. And we didn’t play great defense in the field with errors behind our pitching, so we need a team effort to get better defensively.” Weber expects four junior newcomers to take a step forward in pitcher/outfielder Grace Jensen, outfielder Leslie Murken, third baseman Riley Eischens and second baseman/outfielder Olivia Edmunds. Another newcomer to look out for is sophomore outfielder Jenna Drewes.

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 17

Thunder Hawks seek improvement Montevideo hopes eight returning starters mean more wins

File photo

Montevideo’s Kaden Boike connects on a pitch at home against MACCRAY on Friday, May 21, 2021.

BY TOM ELLIOTT West Central Tribune

MONTEVIDEO — The Montevideo Thunder Hawks admittedly took their lumps last season, going 2-18 with an 0-12 West Central Conference record. But they hope an extra year of experience for many of the players will help turn things around. “Losing Colby Buseman and Landen Knoshal will hurt,” Montevideo head coach Tim Epema said. “But the Thunder Hawks were a very young team last year, with many underclassmen playing key roles. “Last year’s experience could help them get over the hump earlier this season.” There are eight returning starters, including three seniors. Kaden Boike (P/SS/CF), Gage Augeson (P/IF) and Gavin Johnson (OF/P) lead the way. Also back are juniors Brady Snell (P/1B), Mason Jerve (OF) and Luke Kuno (OF/P/DH), as well as sophomore Cooper Dack (C/P/SS/OF). Two players to watch are Grayson Eisenlohr (OF/1B) and Ethan

Moravetz (OF/IF/P/C). “Grayson got some quality at-bats late last season,” Epema said. “Ethan is a player (who) can move all over the field and help out wherever is needed. All the players

made big improvements over the summer.” Epema is in his 16th season as head coach and has a 110-176 career record. His assistant coaches are Brandon Raymo and Josh Dack.

Submitted photo

The Montevideo softball team hopes to improve on its 10-11 overall record, including a 5-7 mark in the West Central Conference.

Monte looks to keep rolling Thunder Hawks hoping for another double-digit win season


mention. Pauling had a .508 batting average and .571 on-base percentage. MONTEVIDEO — She also had a .980 fielding The 2021 season saw Montevideo reach double- percentage, and had 27 strikeouts as a pitcher. digit wins for the first “Kassey is also a time since 2017. Now, returning captain … and the Thunder Hawks will be an important asset want to keep that going on and off the field,” consistently in 2022. Sletta said. “We are excited to Another captain is include some new catcher Alyssa Sachs. Her members to fill in spots 2021 included a .423 throughout our roster,” on-base percentage and a said second-year head .891 fielding percentage. coach Maddie Sletta. “Alyssa’s energy and “Many of this year’s varsity enthusiasm radiates team has had experience throughout this team,” at this level of competition Sletta said, “and we are so it will be fun to learn excited to see her lead on where everyone meshes to and off the field.” fill those roles the best.” Named the team’s Six starters, all seniors, most improved player last are back in the fold from season, Emily Brace could last season’s 10-11 record. see time at both second They also were 5-7 in the base and the outfield. West Central Conference. Serving as a designated Pitcher/first baseman player last year, Brace had Kassey Pauling was an All- a .342 batting average, .419 on-base percentage West Central honorable West Central Tribune


Montevideo’s Cooper Dack fires a pitch to MACCRAY on Friday, May 21, 2021.

and a .447 slugging percentage. Kylie Cobb returns to third base. She hit .362 with a .492 on-base percentage. “I am excited to have Emily on the field this season to watch what she can do defensively,” Sletta said.”Defensively, Kylie will be one of the veterans in the infield.” Outfielder/third baseman Keely Foley and outfielder/catcher Mathea Jorgenson are also returning seniors. Sletta is also hoping for the newcomers to shine. They include juniors Tenley Epema and Mari Huseby, sophomores Taya Weber and Madyson Kling, and freshman Lily Eisenlohr. “We foresee having plenty of diversity in positions and at the plate this season,” Sletta said.

18 Wednesday, April 13, 2022 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Bulldogs rely on pitching, defense

Bulldogs plan to score more runs

Paynesville has an experienced mound staff after losing six senior starters


The Bulldogs have some experienced pitching, led by junior PAYNESVILLE — The right-hander Eli Nelson, Paynesville Bulldogs will who had an 8-1 record be on the young side in last year. Senior Bennett 2022, having to replace Evans went 4-1 and six senior starters from senior Trent Wendlandt a squad that went 18-7 also returns after going and played for a section 1-1 with three saves. championship. Grayson Fuchs is a But guess what? junior and the returning Paynesville head coach starting shortstop. Brad Skoglund, to no one’s He earned All-Central surprise, is optimistic. Minnesota Conference “We have a great group honors last season. of hard-working players,” Also back is senior Skoglund said. “I’m really outfielder Chase Bayer. excited for the 2022 “We will be young on season. It should be varsity experience, but I fun trying to put the feel we could be a solid pieces to this year’s team come playoff time,” puzzle together.” Skoglund is in his 35th year as the Bulldogs’ head coach and has a 481-251 career record. He also has a veteran coaching staff that includes Ron Fuchs, Dick Realdsen, Rick Hendrickson and Chad Campbell. West Central Tribune

Skoglund said. “I think pitching and defense will be our strength this season. “Hopefully, we can swing the bats well enough to score some runs.” The Bulldogs lost to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in last year’s section final. It prevented Paynesville from its seventh state tournament berth in the Skoglund era. The Bulldogs also made state in 2002, ‘05, ‘06, ‘16, ‘18 and ‘19. They won a state Class AA consolation championship in 2002 and a state title in ‘05.

CHASE BAYER Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Paynesville’s Chase Bayer celebrates at home plate after scoring a run in the second inning of a Section 3AA elimination game against Luverne on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at Legion Field in Marshall.

Paynesville’s top-ranked CMC offense is back for another run

Matthew Curry / West Central Tribune

Paynesville’s Madison Leyendecker connects on a pitch at home against Central Minnesota Conference opponent BBE on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

BY JOE BROWN West Central Tribune

PAYNESVILLE — Paynesville softball is ready to pound the ball in 2022. Last season, the Bulldogs were the highest scoring offense in the Central Minnesota Conference at 9.9 runs per game. That helped lead Paynesville to a 8-6 mark in the conference and 11-10 overall. And, according to head coach Zach Nelson, the offense could be even better. “This may be the best hitting team I’ve had,” Nelson said. The key to the Bulldogs’ success will be in the other aspects of the game. “(We’re) very athletic in the field,” Nelson said. “Pitching will be key to how far we can go.”

Best of luck this spring to area teams.

Six starters return for Paynesville. Key among them is senior Mikayla Roberg, who hit for a .440 average with 32 runs and a team record 30 stolen bases. Lynzee Wander is back for her senior year following a season that saw her hit for a .380 average with four home runs and 32 RBIs. Paynesville also brings back experience in the pitcher’s circle with freshmen Kaydence Roeske and Adrianna Messer. Both Roeske and Messer bring some pop in their bat. Roeske hit for a .360 average with two home runs and 20 RBIs last season. Messer hit for a .290 average. Senior Paige Ludwig (.315 average), junior Jada Belmont (.250 average) and freshman Kylie Pauls (.290 average) are also

back as starters. Nelson is also looking for big contributions from newcomers in senior Kianna Roeske, junior Jayda Brooks, junior Erica Ruhoff and freshman Madison McNab.

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Last hurrah for RCW’s coach

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Wednesday, April 13, 2022 19

LQPV From Page 12

Randy Schaub plans to retire after 36 years BY TOM ELLIOTT

out strong. “I expect to be competitive, as I always do,” SACRED HEART — Schaub said. “We have one Randy Schaub’s extensive coaching resume includes a of the best players in the area in Tyler Froland.” stint at Villard from 1982Froland is headed 85 and then through the multiple versions of what is to North Iowa Area now Renville County West. Community College in Mason City in the fall. In those 36 years, he’s He batted .514 with a been the head coach at .625 on-base percentage Danube, Danube-Renvillelast season while playing Sacred Heart, Belviewshortstop, pitcher and Danube-Renville-Sacred third base. Heart and finally RCW. RCW also returns seniors It’s gone well. Schaub Tyler Amsden (P/1B/OF), brings a 359-301 career Camden Wohlman (OF/ record into the 2022 IF/P) and Caleb Hoff (3B/P/ season after the Jaguars OF). Amsden batted .310 went 10-10 in 2021, with a .463 OBP. including a 6-5 Camden Also back are juniors Conference record. The 2022 season Isaac Haen (CF/C) and also will be his last. The Carter Rice (3B/P/!B). Jaguars hope to help him go Haen batted .328 with a West Central Tribune

.431 OBP. Sophomore Jack Wertish (OF) is also one of seven returning starters. Other returning lettermen are senior Ben Gislason and juniors Carson Allex, Isaiah Schroeder and Eddie Morales as well as sophomores Brenden Peterson, zach Gustafson, Spencer Schroeder and Trevor Peterson. “We missed our window to be a top team the previous two years,” Schaub said. “The COVIDcanceled season was a huge loss for our program and then COVID illnesses and injuries hurt last year’s team. I’ve told the players over the years that you need to be good in all phases of the game and have things break your way, too.”

CAMDEN WOHLMAN Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

RCW second baseman Camden Wohlman (left) looks to make the throw to first for a double play after getting the force out on Benson's Isaac Minchow during a nonconference game on Friday, April 30, 2021 in Sacred Heart.

“Taylor is an amazing athlete,” Scott said. “She excels at whatever she puts her mind to. She is a threat any time she is on base and puts a great deal of pressure on opposing defenses. Defensively, she has great range to get to balls that are hit in the holes and a strong arm to go along with it. She is an excellent hitter with an outstanding on-base percentage, which typically puts our team in a position to score runs.” Junior Ayana Gipson (outfield), junior Rylee Lund (outfield) and sophomore Isabel Gerdes (catcher/infield/outfield) also return as starters for the Eagles. Sophomore Claire Borstad (pitcher/ outfield) is also back as a returning letterwinner.


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