2006 All-Area Baseball Team
Paynesville, which finished as state runner-up in Class AA, landed three of its players on the Tribune's All-Area Baseball Team. Willmar, the area's lone Class AAA team, also had three player selected.
Paynesville, which finished 21-5 this season, had senior catcher/pitcher John Hemingson and senior pitcher/shortstop/catcher Jamie Paul selected for the second straight year. They are joined on the All-Area team by teammate Cory Nietfeld, a junior outfielder.
Tyler Horning, a senior shortstop, is Willmar's lone repeat pick. He in joined by Cardinal teammates Ross VanHauen, a senior pitcher/third baseman; and Matt Roisum, a senior first baseman/pitcher.
Also named to the All-Area team are Justin Schroeder, a junior pitcher/outfielder from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City; Jake Erickson, a senior center fielder from Benson; Stephen Engelmann, a senior pitcher/third baseman from BOLD; Ben Aaseth, a senior first baseman/pitcher from BOLD; Grant Johnson, a senior pitcher/shortstop from Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg; Eddie Massee, a senior pitcher/third baseman from Lac qui Parle Valley; Ryan Sigdahl, a junior pitcher/third baseman from Lac qui Parle Valley; Tony Gutormson, a senior pitcher/third baseman/first baseman from Litchfield; Justin Koenen, a junior pitcher/infielder/outfielder from MACCRAY; Zach Thissen, a junior pitcher/center fielder from MACCRAY; James Gallagher, a senior second baseman/pitcher from Montevideo; Brian Pieh, a senior outfielder/pitcher from New London-Spicer; Mitch Schwindt, a senior shortstop/pitcher from Renville County West; and Luke Berg, a senior pitcher/infielder from Yellow Medicine East.
Hemingson stood out in all areas this season, posting a 9-1 record and a 0.25 ERA, including a one-hit shutout in the state quarterfinals and a save in the semifinals. He struck out 86 batters in 70 innings, while walking only 14. At the plate, he batted .500 with 28 runs scored, five home runs and 25 RBI. He also was an outstanding catcher that teams rarely tried to run on. He was also an All-State pick.
Nietfeld was an outstanding defensive outfielder who showed great range and a strong arm, helping the Bulldogs win the West Central North Conference title and the Section 5AA title. He batted .380 with two home runs and 21 RBI and often came with a clutch hit. He was also an All-Area basketball selection.
Paul was injured in a non-baseball related accident the day before the state tournament started so he didn't get a chance to pitch on the first day. He started the championship game Friday, but wasn't healthy enough to duplicate being the winning pitcher in the title game as he did as a junior. This season, the right-hander went 9-2 with a 2.65 ERA and batted .358, drove in 18 runs and stole 17 of 18 bases.
A solid shortstop with excellent range, a strong arm and a great knowledge of the game. He led the Cardinals with a .397 batting average and had 12 extra-base hits, including five home runs. He also led the team with a .740 slugging percentage, 21 RBI, 24 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.
Roisum was a consistent hitter this season for the Cardinals, finishing with a .360 batting average as the Cardinals went 15-9 this season. He also drove in 12 runs. Defensively, Roisum made only one error while recording 140 putouts. He went 2-1 on the hill with a 2.92 ERA in 24 innings.
An imposing presence on the mound this season for the Cardinals, Van Hauen went 3-3 with a 2.55 ERA in a strong-hitting Central Lakes Conference. In 44 innings pitched, he walked 16 and struck out 25. He also was third on the team in hitting with a .310 average.
Schroeder, a three-year starter, had an outstanding season at the plate for the Falcons, hitting .463 with six extra-base hits and a team-leading 24 RBI. He was also 6-for-6 in stolen bases. On the hill, the left-hander posted a 3-3 record and a 3.74 ERA, averaging over one strikeout per inning.
A three-year starter for the Braves, Erickson batted a robust .475 this season with five extra-base hits and 11 RBI, while stealing six bases without being caught. He also shined in the outfield with his excellent range and strong, accurate arm.
Aaseth committed only one error this season at first base and saved his infielders several errors. He also stood out on the mound, posting a 3-0 record and a 2.75 ERA, averaging a strikeout per inning. At the plate, Aaseth led the Warriors with a .459 average, four home runs and 21 RBI despite teams trying to pitch around him.
Engelmann often was assigned to the toughest opponents and posted a 5-4 record and a 3.86 ERA. His four losses were by a total of five runs. He walked only 12 while striking out 40 in 50 innings. He was also a sure-handed third baseman who possessed a strong and accurate arm.
Johnson helped KMS to a 16-5 record this season, batting .371 from the leadoff spot with eight extra-base hits, 19 RBI and 10 stolen bases. On the mound, Johnson was 4-3 with a 3.07 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 40 innings, while allowing only 22 hits and eight walks. He also was an outstanding fielding shortstop with a strong arm.
Lac qui Parle Valley
Massee helped the Eagles win the West Central South Conference, where he was co-Most Valuable Player. He batted .367 overall with 11 doubles, three triples and two home runs, while driving in 22 runs. He had a .500 on-base-percentage. In 70 innings pitched, he walked 21 and struck out 85 in posting an 8-1 record and a 1.51 ERA with two saves.
Lac qui Parle Valley
Sigdahl was outstanding on the mound this season for the Eagles and a big reason why the team won the West Central South Conference title outright. He went 9-1 with a 1.76 ERA and two saves and was named the co-MVP in the conference. He walked 16 and struck out 54 in 60 innings pitched. He batted only .236 but drove in 14 runs and had a home run.
Gutormson went 5-1 pitching this season for the Dragons with a 2.20 ERA and one save in 54 innings. He led the Dragons with 20 RBI, 22 runs and seven doubles while batting .333 and striking out only four times all season. Litchfield went 17-9 this season and finished second in the section. Gutormson was also an All-Area selection in football.
Koenen was dominating as a pitcher this season for the Wolverines, going 7-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 40 innings. He pitched four shutouts. He also batted .340 with four doubles and 15 RBI, while stealing 10 bases without getting caught. His on-base percentage was .563. He also made only one error this year while playing seven different positions.
Thissen led the Wolverines in hitting this season with a .426 average and 10 extra-base hits. He also drove in a team-high 21 runs as MACCRAY went 12-9 this season. Thissen also found success as a pitcher this season, going 3-2 with a 1.41 ERA and averaged better than a strikeout per inning. His speed and strong arm made him a natural center fielder where he had only one error all season.
A five-year starter for the Thunder Hawks, Gallagher batted .438 this season with 19 runs scored, 12 RBI and 12 stolen bases. One of the best fielding second baseman this area has had in many years, Gallagher started 113 straight games and was named all-conference four straight years. He also ended his career with 88 walks, fourth-most in state history. He was also 2-2 pitching with a 1.95 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28 innings with only eight walks.
Pieh, a line-drive hitter, batted a team-leading .425 this season for the Wildcats, including eight extra-base hits and 12 RBI. Exceptionally quick, Pieh covered a lot of ground in the outfield and took away a lot of extra-base hits. He also served as the Wildcats' closer, striking out 30 batters in 22 innings, while walking only five. He posted a 2-0 record and a 1.18 ERA.
Renville County West
A Lions All-Star selection, Schwindt batted .405 this season for the Jaguars with 10 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a .536 on-base-average. His quickness also enabled him to show great range in the field and a strong arm from shortstop. He posted a 2-1 record on the mound with a 3.42 ERA.
Yellow Medicine East
Berg led the Sting with a .403 batting average and 19 RBI, while homering twice and swiping 10 bases. He also was the team's top pitcher with a 6-1 record and a 2.10 ERA with 67 strikeouts. He was also a two-time All-Area pick in football.