-- by Roger Mischke, MBA freelance writer
Back for a fourth season at KNSI with your weekly amateur baseball (Town Team) baseball reports. Including not only game summaries, but upcoming schedules, league standings. Tournament summaries and an occasional special interest feature. The plan is to continue to include: Lakewood League, Central Valley League, Sauk Valley League, Victory League South and Stearns County teams throughout their league playoffs, regional and state tourney games. Check out the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Web site for additional information: http://www.mnbaseball.org
The Class B Teams in the Lakewood League will have a difference format this season. There will be four sections and four teams from each section will qualify for the state tourney. This will still them their 16 team bracket as in the past. The Lakewood League will be in Section 2; Teams Included: Brainerd Bees, Cold Spring Springer's, Duluth Express, Hibbing, Marshall, Moorhead Brewers, Sauk Rapids Cyclones and St. Cloud Beaudreau's.
COLD SPRING SPRINGERS
Managers: Tim Illies/Dave Hinkemeyer
The big changes is the playoff format that is mentioned above. When visiting with the Springer's manager, he indicated that all the players were planning to return from last years team. He wasn't aware of anyone that was planning to retire and no information on any new players. The Springers top pitcher, Zach Femrite, Justin Thompson, Chris Butala and Jack Arnold all return and expect to throw several innings. Their top hitters; Brain Hansen, Joe Dempsey, Alex Jungels and Drew VanLoy are all expecting to have good seasons. Look for the Springers to make a strong challenge to repeat as the Lakewood League champions and for Section 2 honors.
ST. CLOUD BEAUDREAU SAINTS
Manager: Brian Anderson
The Saints will be looking to challenge for a league title and state tournament honors. They will return their top pitchers veteran Brad Haag, he threw over 60 innings last season. Dominic Austing also threw nearly 60 innings last season, has been starting for the St. Cloud State Huskies and Brindley Theisen are all expected to return. The Saints do expect to have their top hitters back in the lineup; Tommy Auger, Brian Minks and Steve Neutzling; all hit over .325 last season. With a few others that had around .300 averages, this should give the Saints a very balanced lineup. The manager wasn't aware of any players that were retiring, however he indicted that Dustin Wilcox will be playing with the Big Lake White Caps this season. He didn't disclose any information on any new players that might be joining them this season.
SAUK RAPIDS CYCLONES
Manager: Paul Schlangen
The Cyclones didn't disclose any specific names, but he did indicate that he was planning to have most of the players back for this season. Also a few players that have played for other teams will be rejoining the Cyclones. There will be a few college ball players that will be expected to make major contributions. There maybe a couple of ball players from the high school team that may join them.
Manager: Tim Martin
No report from the Brainerd Bees
CENTRAL VALLEY LEAGUE
The Central Valley League and Corn Belt League teams will all enter the Region 11C tourney. The regional to be held in Cold Spring over three weekends. They will determine what three teams will qualify for the state tournament. Corn Belt League consists of: Milroy Yankees, Raymond Rockets, Granite City Kilowatts, Sacred Heart Saint, Willmar Rails and Bird Island Bullfrogs.
Manager: Tom Marquardt
The Express will have their top two pitchers for the upcoming season; Zach Dingmann and Ben Johnson. They have three others with pitcher experience and are expected to throw many innings are: Matt Dingmann, Andy Dingmann and Joey Von Wahlde. They were led by Austin Ruehle and Jordan Joseph last season in batting average along with several other veteran ball players. Jordan is currently the starting shortstop for the SCSU Huskies, he is having a great season. He may be playing in the Northwood League, but time will tell. Overall the Express have a very veteran team, they do expect everyone else to return, no news of any new players. With the Express season getting cut short with a couple of regional losses, they will be look to make a deeper run into the post season in 2017. They should be a strong challenge for anyone on the Central Valley and will likely challenge for one of the three spots to qualify for the state tourney.
EDEN VALLEY HAWKS
Manager: Robert Geislinger
The Hawks will have their top pitchers back for the upcoming season; Tanner Olean, Austin Schlangen and Travis Thielen. They expect to have their top hitters back this summer; Alex Geislinger, Jeff Haag and Tanner Olean. Josh Schumacker is expected to retire this season. At this time there are no new players that are expected to sign.
Manager: Cory Wenz
The Brewers look for Sam Iten and Austin Klaverkamp to be back to lead the way for the pitching staff. They will be looking to have a very solid team 1 thru 9 in their batting order; Isaac Matchinsky Derek Orth, Cory Wenz and Nick Baker are some of their top hitters. They are expecting Darren Kiffmeyer, Kelly Weber and Brice Adelmeyer to retire this upcoming season. They have signed three new ball players; Trevor Koenig a senior at St. Cloud Tech, he has signed to play with the SCSU Huskies next season. Logan Aleshire a senior at St. Cloud Tech formerly played for St. Augusta. J. T. Harren a senior at Kimball High School has also signed to play this summer with the Brewers. They should challenge for one of those three spots for the state tournament. They are looking to extend their season at least one more game, than last year, when they were defeated in the regional elimination game by Raymond, in multiple extra innings. Raymond went on the to win the State Class C Championship.
PEARL LAKE LAKERS
Manager: Tommy Linn
Players that plan to retire include five that have been long time Lakers:
Logan Schramel, Jack Schramel, Tony Garding, RJ Ruegemer, Sam Schlangen. All of the players Pearl Lake is losing made an impact in one way or another during last season and their career. While Logan, Jack, and RJ's career were fairly short in tenure for the Lakers they were skillful players that made an immediate impact upon signing. Sam was a utility player and left handed hitter who could be used in any situation at any time. His versatility and ability to step up no doubt will be missed. Last but certainly not least is Tony Garding. Tony has been a long time staple in the Lakers rotation and his career is ending after an amazing 19 years. Tony could be relied upon in any game at any time. Tony's unorthodox delivery to the plate and precise accuracy had hitters fooled for many years. Over time Tony was coined with the nickname "Dad", and his fatherly figure will be missed by all Lakers players and fans.
Alex Miller, Craig Pfannenstein, Chandler Bacon, Noah Krueger, Matt Krippner
We're excited to have all of the new players on the Lakers as it presents some great baseball experience and also introduces some additional youth to the team. Alex and Craig both bring years of baseball experience to the team and are expected to make an immediate impact. Alex has experience playing at the collegiate level and we will look for him to get a lot of innings this spring. Craig was the starting shortstop on a St. Cloud Cathedral state championship team a few years back and his defensive skills welcomed on an already stellar defensive infield. Chandler, Noah, and Matt are closer to the end of high school age and will all bring value to the team. Chandler and Noah will look to pitch when available while Matt focus on outfield duties and be one of the faster players on the team.
COLD SPRING ROCKIES
Manager: Reece Hemmesch
The Rockies made an exciting run last season, coming from the middle of the pact and playing a pair of games in the state tournament. Their top pitchers this summer are expected to be: Ryan Hennen, Trevor Lardy and Jordan Neu. They have their top hitters back; veteran Kevin Wenner, Jordan Neu, Calvin Kalthoff and Dylan Tebrake. Players that are expected to retire this season are: Ryan Bell, Chris Lardy and Mike Holbrook. Look for the Rockies to have a very exciting season, they have added several exhibition games to their schedule. They should challenge anyone in the Central Valley and the Region.
ST. AUGUSTA GUSSIES
Manager: Dustin Schulzetenberg
The Gussies top pitchers return this season: Travis Laudenbach, Aaron Fruth and Dan Swan. Also look their top hitters to return this season; Adam Gwost, Nate Laudenbach and Nate Gwost. The Gussies have many veteran ball players back and no one that is retiring from the game. Look for them to make a strong challenge in the South Division of the Central Valley and possible challenge for one of those top three spots in the region. They are playing a very challenging schedule once again, with several exhibition games with teams thru out the area.
ST. NICHOLAS NICKS
Manager: Robert Lutgen
The Nicks will have their top pitchers back for the up coming season, Travis Hanson, Jon Hofer, Cory Grafft and Kevin Drontle. Derek Kuechle will be expected to throw some innings before he leaves for a summer internship. Their offense have back their leaders from last season, Tanner Anderson, Travis Hanson and Robert Lutgen. They have a pair of ball players that are expected to retire the upcoming season, Jeff Lutgen and Joe Wehlage. The Lakers have signed several high school players from Rocori and Eden Valley; Ben Nelson, Dylan Rauschenberg, Alex Foehrenbacher, Matt Schindler, Jamison Kuechle and Grant Morzek.
Manager: Matt Geislinger
The Clippers are expected to have back their top three pitchers; Matt Geislinger, Dan Berg and Heath Kramer. Kevin Kramer, Dan Berg and Brendan Ashton are their returning offensive leaders from last season. The Clippers should field a very experience team thru out their lineup. They didn't expect to have Miah Kramer back this season, as he plans to retire. They will have some new ball players on their roster, that will be expected to get a great deal of playing time: Dan Sargent, Tyler Hebrink, Reese Jansen and Carson Geislinger. The Clippers will be one of the preseason favorites to win the Central Valley South. They will be looking to defend their Region 11C championship.
SAUK VALLEY LEAGUE
The Sauk Valley League and the Eastern Minney League play in the Region 1C tournament, the top three teams will qualify for the state tournament. The teams in the East Minney are; Braham Snappers, Pine City Pirates, Mora Blue Devils, Quamba Cubs, Hinckley Knights, East Bethel Bandits, Chisago Lake Lakes Bulldogs, Nowthen Knights, Princeton Panthers, Rum River Bandits and the North Branch Nighthawks. The top three teams from the Sauk Valley and top four from the East and West Eastern Minny advance to the region.
Manager: Randy Beckstrom
The Muskies should once again make a strong challenge to repeat as the Sauk Valley League champion and Region championship. They were beaten in extra innings by Raymond at the state last year and Raymond went on to win the championship. Back are the Muskies top pitchers; a pair of lefties David Deminsky and John Schumer and Adam Wenker. This was one of the top pitching staffs in the area last season. Their top hitters are back; Tim Burns, Jake Sweeter and Jace Otto. They will all be looking to have repeat performances of last season. All players will be returning, with the exception of Andrew Deters and Rob Voshell will not be in the area this summer, they will be missed. However the Muskies have great depth and I am sure they will have a very balanced line up on the field. No news as far as any new players, but the manager did state that they will likely add a couple more young guys in May.
ST. JOSEPH JOES
Manager: Pat Schneider
The Joes qualified for the state tournament for the first time in a handful of years last season. They will expect to have their top two pitchers back from last season; Greg Anderson and Alex Kendall, will be expected threw several innings. Three of their top hitters are returning for this season; Joe Stock, Ethan Carlson and Ben Alvord along with several others with a great deal of experience. They have one player that is expected to retire this season: Brock Cheeley. New players that have signed thus far include; Joey Atkinson, Charles Vaughan, Isaac Holthaus and Tanner Blommer. Look for the Joes to be much improved, their young players have played together for a few years now. Expect the Joes to challenge any one in the Sauk Valley league and for one of those top three spots in the region.
Manager: Mike Beier
The Lumberjacks have a great mix of veteran and young ball players the past couple of seasons. They should be looking to have a very good season with the younger players gaining a lot of experience. The top pitchers are all back; veteran Mike Beier, Cameron Jurek and Mike Plante, all looking to log many innings. Their top hitters are all back; Tony Stay, Noah Winkleman, Mike Beier and Mitch Beehler all all back looking to have good seasons. They don't have any retiring players, but they have added one player, Tyler Long of Sauk Rapids, will surely boost their defense in the Lumberjacks infield. They should be a challenge for anyone in the league or the region.
CLEAR LAKE LAKERS
Manager: Izzy Carper/Mike Golombiecki
Returning offensive leaders of the Team are Jake Samuelson, Brandon Buesgens and Matt Korte. Returning Pitchers Mike Smith and Hunter Mutterer look to lead the Lakers on the mound. The Lakers have newly signed Culyer Helwig (Annandale High School), Wyatt Whaiby (Annandale High School), Ryan Paasch (Crookston), Adam Smith ( Tech High School) and Aaron Vogt(Tech High School). No news on any players they might retire this upcoming season.
SARTELL STONE PONEYS
Manager: Jeff Amann
In January, the Stone Poneys left the Eastern Minny League and joined the Sauk Valley League. Distance of travel was becoming too much of a hindrance for some guys on the team. So they decided to be closer to home. They are returning Jeff Amann, and Nate Nierenhausen on the hill. Matt Maurer will also log plenty of innings this summer. At the plate, Sean Tillman, Jim Gabrielson, and Teddy Fleming all return. They are losing 2-3 players. Austin Timm retired, he joined the Army last fall and is currently in OTC down in Georgia. Jake Wenzel, will also be done, he got a job lined up in North Dakota after he graduates in May. Jordan Clitty and Rob Gabrielson will be part time players again this year. So lots of changes, but will bring in a few guys to hopefully make up for it, and plan to sign a few more. They signed Shawn Lindsay, 2006 UMD Grad. He played for Clear Lake until 2010, then took a few years off. He’s excited to get back into it. They also signed Sartell native, Cody Rose. He is a 2016 Sartell HS Grad, Pitcher/1B. The youngest signee is Rudy Sauerer, a junior currently at Cathedral HS. Rudy is excited to play some amateur ball this summer, but will also be splitting time with Legion.
Schedule is much tougher as they move into a much tougher league. Regions aren’t a guarantee like they were in the Eastern Minny. 6 of the 12 league games are against teams that were in the State Tourney last year. They play a few Class B teams, Rogers, and Beaudreau’s. They are also participating in the Farming Invitational in June.
Manager: Kevin Bents/Cole Hanson
The Bandits are back! Becker has been without an Amateur Ball Club for a few years but looking to make a positive impact with the first year back in action! For many of the guys it is a new opportunity. They have a very young but talented group of guys that are ready to play ball at a high and competitive level. Age ranging to as young as 15. Sauk Valley League and Amateur Ball will be a good opportunity for them this coming 2017 season. Team Consists of Jose Bue, Kreeden Blomquist, Matt Conzemius, Jon Crowley, Hayden Fassler, Dawson Hill, Brian Kolbinger, Andrew Kolbinger, Kevin Krenz, Matt Krenz, Johnny Mann, Matthew Moe, Noah Mohs, Tanner Niedenfeuhr, Austin Rasmussen, Connor Rolf, Ryan Sommerdorf, and Matt Yoerg. Bandits are Coached by Cole Hanson and Assisted by Brian Kolbinger & Kevin Krenz. First Game is May 7th at Home against the Clear Lake Lakers!
Manager: Jason Sokolowski
After playing in the Class B league, they have been reclassified as a Class C team. The Villains will have their top two pitchers back this season; Mike Wallace and Henry Berning will carry the bulk of the mound duties for the Villians. Their top hitters will be back, including: Jim Althoff he hit .358 last season and Mike Krempa hit .351. Some new players that will plan to join the Villians this season, will include Steven VanVleet, he will throw some innings for them. Ryan Hagerty returns, he was their MVP in 2015 when he hit .382, will surely give their offense a boost. Brad Koltes will not be playing this summer, the Rocori graduate plans to retire from playing amateur baseball. Jason Sokolowski is in his 3rd year as the manager and his 25th year of playing amateur ball.
STEARNS COUNTY LEAGUE
The Stearns County Teams will compete with the County Line League team for four state tournament births in the Region 15C. Top three teams from both North and South Stearns qualify for the region tournament. Three teams from the County Line qualify for the region tournament. County Line includes: the Regal Eagles, Norway Lake Sunburg Lakers, New London-Spicer Twins, Starbuck Bucks, Atwater Chuckers and Paynesville Pirates. The regional tournament will be hosted by New Munich for the 2017 season.
STEARNS COUNTY NORTH
Manager: Matt Middendorf/Pat Illies
The Saints have a very deep pitching staff with the return of all their pitchers; they have a great deal of experience. Ethan Vogt, Austen Hadley, Aaron Vogt, Austin Imdieke and Brady Weller. They have all thrown a lot of innings with out a doubt overall the best pitching staff in the league and possibly in the region. They have a great deal of experience back, they are solid 1 thru 9 in their batter order. Top hitters, include; Matt Middendorf, Matt Schmitz, Cody Eichens, Austen Hadley and A. J. Hadley. They are expecting everyone to be back for the upcoming season. At this point they have not signed any new ball players. Look for the Saints to Challenge for Stearns County North Championship and likely will be one of the state qualifiers.
Manager: Nick Rademacher
The Cubs will have their top pitchers back for the upcoming season; Nick Rademacher and Brandon Worms. They will likely throw the majority of the innings for the Cubs. They may have a couple of young guys that will threw a few innings. They have their top hitters back for the upcoming season; Ryan Kraemer, he led the team in batting average; Nick Rademacher led the team in hits and Mitchell Worms wasn't far behind those two in both stats. They will have two players that are expected to retire this season; Andy Ulbricht and Cory Imdieke. Adam Van Beck will be a addition to the Cubs and Cory Ahrens will be returning after taking a year off.
MEIRE GROVE GROVERS
Manager: Doug Meyer/Kurt Meyer
The Grovers plan to have their top two pitchers back for the 2017 season; Jacob Imdieke and Matt Imdieke. Their top hitters are expected to be back; Tanner Klaphake, Colton Meyer and Alex Welle. The Grovers are not aware of any players that plan to retire this upcoming season. They have one new player that is planning to play this summer; Drake Meyer.
NEW MUNICH SILVERSTREAKS
Manager: Paul Sand
The Silverstreaks will have back their top two pitchers from last season, Jim Thull & Ty Reller. Their top hitters are back for the season, Chad Funk, Will Funk, Jon Gaebel – Will & Jon both suffered ACL injuries last year and played partial seasons. They were not aware of any players that were planning to retire this upcoming season. They will be looking to add a couple young guys. With the guys injured at the end of last year they are not sure if everyone will be available at the start of the year and may need some young guys to fill the gaps for a while. If they can keep the number of games lost to injury down theyshould be very competitive with the other teams in the league and will rely on their pitching and defense to keep them in games early in the year.
SPRING HILL CHARGERS
Manager: Gordon Barden
The Chargers are planning to have their top pitchers returning for the 2017 season; Austin Schoenberg, Jordan Welle and Brent Terres. They expect to have back their top hitters; Jamie Terres, Shawn Schoenberg and Erik Terres. The Chargers have four players that are planning to retire for the upcoming season; Louie Opatz, Erik Schoenberg, Jordan Welle and Brent Terres. They are looking to sign new players, all from the Spring Hill area, they are very young, two are still in high school.
STEARNS COUNTY SOUTH
Manager: Dale Schroeder
The Flames will have back their top two pitchers from last season; Brad Mergen and Kyle Zierden. They plan to have their top hitters back from last season, Craig Klein, Nick Mergen and Chris Wehseler. They have several players with experience and they should field a solid team all the way thru the line up. They do expect all their players to return for the upcoming season. One new player at this time that has signed is Isaac Nett. The Flames should be a strong challenge for anyone in the Stearns County league, they should be in the hunt for a state tournament birth.
LAKE HENRY LAKERS
Managers: Keith Lieser
No report from the Lakers
Manager: Kirby Hemmesch
The Royals are expecting their top pitchers; DJ Schleicher, Andy Bauer, Alex Budde back for for this upcoming season. Their offensive leaders from last season will be returning: Kyle Budde Cole Schmitz Scott Ruegemer, along with several veteran ball players. They should have veteran presents thru out the line up. The Royals are expecting everyone to back for the 2017 and two new additions include: Phil Nimela and Mason Primus. They will be looking to earn one of four state tournament births this season.
Manager: Lee Schleper
The Rangers are expecting the return of their top pitcher this season, he is pitching for Valley City College this spring. A junior, that is one of go to pitchers. Also are looking for some big innings from; Josh Mackendanz, Brent Heinen and Jordan Schleper. Two of their top hitters should be back; Trent Gertken and Brandon Schleper and Jordan Schleper to led the Ranger offense. One player not planning to be back is Brady Klinfus, he took a new job with the Stillwater Police Department. The Rangers will be looking to be one of the three teams to qualify for the region tournament.
ST. MARTIN MARTINS
Manager: Carl Lieser
The Martins are expecting to have their top pitchers back for the 2017 season: Ben Schroeder, Jaylyn Arceneau and Scott Schlangen. This will give them one of the deepest staffs in the Stearns County League. They are planning to have their top offensive players back in the lineup; Kyle Lieser, Bryan Schlangen and Taylor Holthaus. They should be very solid all the way thru the lineup this upcoming season. Jordan Moscho is the only player that has indicated that he is planning to retire. They have signed three new players; Mitchell Thelen, Jared Thelen and Austin Olmscheid, young high school players from the area. They will be looking to earn one of those four state qualify spots.
VICTORY LEAGUE SOUTH
The Victory League consists of 20 teams; four divisions of 5 teams. Two teams from each division qualify for the Region 8C tournament. Four Teams qualify for the state tournament from the 8C Tourney.
Manager: Reed Voit
No Report from the Avon Lakers
FREEPORT BLACK SOX
Manager: Rob Mettenburg
More changes to the Freeport Black Sox with old faces retiring and new faces coming on board. They will plan to have back their top pitchers; Mitch Reller, Carter Sawyer and Nate Winter. All with experience, Mitch will be completing his senior year at Minnesota Morris. Carter a lefty; could relief and also start games and lefty Nate will be expected to throw several innings. The Black Sox's will have their offensive leaders back; Eric Eveslage, Carter Sawyer and Troy Frieler. It is expected that Issac Sawyer and Mitch Waldvogel will also give the offense a boost, with the experience they gained last season. Several players are planning to retire: Grant Hess, Chad Hess, Craig Meyer, Ryan Tschida and Nate Klaphake. Two new players signed are Trevor and Brandon Sawyer, they are expected to be contribute from the start. It could be a struggle to start, but they expect to see their young guys to learn fast. There is a lot of talent here, they will need to put it together.
Manager: Scott Binek
They will not have their top pitchers back in the same roles: Jake Eichten is going to retire and Cory Huls and Jim Muehlbauer will be limited in their roles. Their offensive leader John Pilarski will be back and they expect that Derek Thielen, Jake Klein and Ian Hoffarth will add some punch to their offense. Jake Nelson and Derek Thielen will be pitching most of the innings this season. Austin Gerards and Zack Bialka should see some time on the mound too. They had several young ball players last season, several sophomores in high school. Alex Lange a high school student is expected to do a lot of the catching for the Bears. With the addition of these ball players and their young guys being back with some experience, look for the Bears to challenge for a spot in the regional tournament.
ST. STEPHEN STEVES
Manager: Ben Omann
No Report from St. Stephen Steves
ST. WENDEL SAINTS
Manager: Grant Pierskalla
The Saints will look for John Pogatchnick to throw a lot of innings this coming season. Max Posch should start and throw several relief innings and Sam Butler will be expected to be available on the mound too. The top hitters for the Saints, include John Pogatchnick, he led the team in batting average. Keaton Gustin the former All American from Ridgewater Community College and Lee Maciej should be their key hitters for the 2017 season. They are expecting all their players to be back, they are not aware of anyone that is retiring. They have signed two new players: Russ Fellbaum and Taylor Erickson.
STEARNS COUNTY LEAGUE (1:30)
Sunday April 23rd
Elrosa Saints @ New Munich Silverstreaks
Greenwald Cubs @ Spring Hill Chargers
Lake Henry Lakers @ Richmond Royals
Meire Grove Grovers @ Roscoe Rangers
CENTRAL VALLEY LEAGUE
Sunday April 23rd
Luxemburg Brewers @ Kimball Express 2:00
VICTORY LEAGUE SOUTH
Sunday April 23rd
St. Stephen Steves @ Opole Bears 1:30
St. Wendell Saints @ Flensburg Falcons 1:30
Sunday April 23rd
St. Augusta Gussies @ Cold Spring Rockies 2:00
Montrose Waverly @ Pearl Lake Lakers 2:00
Wednesday April 26th
St. August Gussies @ Sartell Muskies 7:00
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