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Krause glad she ended up in Willmar

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Andrea Krause took a roundabout route to Ridgewater College. The 2010 graduate of Bloomington Kennedy first went a little east to Rosemount to attend Dakota County Technical College.

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She planned to pitch for the BlueKnight softball team, which announced plans to transition to NJCAA Division II. Unlike Division III, that meant scholarship money. Krause could live at home, get a big chunk of her tuition discounted and play the sport she'd excelled in since seventh grade.

Todd Thorstad, the Lady Warriors' coach, had tried to recruit her. He followed her during her senior season and watched her pitch in the Coaches Association All-Star game at North Mankato in June.

But Krause didn't know where Willmar was and was reluctant to leave home.

But in Andrea's own words, "It fell apart."

Last fall she was told there would be no move to Division II, after all.

That meant no scholarship money. Next, she learned there was no program. The coach who recruited her was gone. The DCTC Website shows a new coach hired in early October, but there is no schedule or roster for 2011.

Krause was adrift. But she remembered the coach from someplace west of her home that had shown interest. She found his number and called during the 2010 holiday break.

Thorstad was pleased to hear from her, but said he could not discuss a possible transfer until she was released from her letter-of-intent by DCTC.

The student has to initiate the release. NJCAA, like its much bigger sibling, has strict guidelines regarding transfers. Krause went to work over the holiday break. Even after the papers were signed, there was a 10-day period in which Thorstad could have no contact with the new prospect.

In the hurried transition from the Twin Cities to the prairie in the midst of a hard winter, she enrolled in a general studies program here, emphasizing business, and found a place to live. Sophomore first baseman Sara Beyer, who is from Morris, had a room for her in the place she was renting.

Krause pitched at the varsity level beginning in seventh grade for the Kennedy Eagles. The teams didn't have a lot of success, but she recalls a better than .500 record her senior season.

This spring, she is 8-2 after pitching consecutive shutouts this week. She uses up to five pitches with excellent control. At the plate, she's hitting over .300.

"I like it here," she said. "The girls are great and we have a solid team." Things have worked out. Until my mom drove me out here, I had no idea where Willmar was."

It's worked out for Lady Warriors, too. Never close any doors by bad-mouthing another program.

"I just tell a prospect, well, if things don't work out where you're going, we're still here," said Thorstad.

All-Americas

Sophomore Sarah Hund and freshman Alyssa Tinklenberg of Gustavus Adolphus College each earned All-America recognition at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Meet at the of March in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee.

Hund anchored the Gusties fifth-place quartet in the 200 freestyle relay (1:34.57) to gain All-America. Both she and Tinklenberg swam on the 400 freestyle relay (13th) and the 800 freestyle relay (16th) to achieve honorable mention.

Sixteen Gusties qualified for nationals, eight women and eight men.

Golf invite

The annual Willmar and Litchfield two-day boys 18-team golf tournament that was set to start Friday in at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar and finish up at Litchfield Golf Club on Saturday has been cancelled in anticipation of the predicted inclement weather those two days.

On the fly

* Marco Vazquez, a junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato, is playing 2-singles and 2-doubles for the Mavericks. Bethel College junior Matt Hallstrom, a former Cardinal teammate and doubles partner, is playing 6-singles and 3-doubles for the Royals. Sophomore Trent Fader is on the St. John's University roster. He partnered with Alex Wiegmann (New London-Spicer) in a 3-double match at Arizona in March.

* In his second year with the North Dakota State Bison, former Ridgewater College catcher Tyler Steen is hitting .303 in 18 starts with four doubles and 11 RBI, both second-best on the team. Steen, from Raymond, is a junior. The Bison (4-18) have yet to play a home game to field conditions at Newman Field in Fargo.

* Former Cardinal and Willmar Stinger, Jordan Smith, a sophomore at St. Cloud State, leads the Huskies in batting averaging (.374), doubles (6), RBI (22) and homers (4).

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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