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Ridgewater eyes two region titles

The Ridgewater College baseball team's quest for the Region 13 title starts today in St. Cloud. Nine teams will compete for the one qualifying spot at the NJCAA national tournament.

The Warriors meet Riverland at noon today at Joe Faber Field.

The three-day event is double-elimination. Last year, Ridgewater reached the championship round where it lost to Riverland.

If the Warriors do prevail, third-year coach Joel Barta will be taking his team to Texas, where he coached before accepting the Willmar post prior to the 2008-09 school year.

The Warriors' advantage in a three-day tournament is their pitching. Eleven players have posted at least one win on the mound.

Cody Conners, a sophomore from Thief River Falls, leads the staff with an ERA under 1.00, while pitching a team-high 37 innings and allowing just 21 hits. Nathan Nietfeld, Jordan Flick and Anthony Leaman have each pitched 27 innings. Mike Weber, Bobby Arens and Johnny Pistulka all have thrown 22 innings.

Out of the pen, Gavin Biegler is the set-up man for closer Cody Johnson.

At the plate, Clint Aretz has a team-high five homers and 32 RBI. Jordan Prill is right behind with four homers and 31 RBI. Austen Hadley has a team-best 13 extra-base hits while batting .402.

Pistulka is batting at a .408 clip to lead the club.

Ridgewater and Riverland are in the bracket opposite Dakota County Technical College and Fergus Falls. If the Warriors win, they play again at 3 p.m. or at 6 p.m. if they lose the first-round game.

Ridgewater last made the national field in 2008.

Softball hosting

The past decade in Minnesota junior college softball, the Ridgewater Lady Warriors have been the team to beat.

Under Todd Thorstad, the head coach starting in 2000, the Lady Warriors have won four Region 13 championships, five MCAC titles, including this year, and qualified for 11 straight state tournaments.

The Lady Warriors (33-8), the top seed, will host the region tournament Friday and Saturday at the college field.

No. 2 Anoka-Ramsey plays No. 3 Rochester at 10 a.m. Ridgewater plays unseeded Minnesota West at noon. The four-team Region 13B tournament is being played at Grand Rapids at the same time.

All-America shortstop Emily Roelike blends power and speed. She is hitting .531 with 60 RBI, 14 home runs and 34 stolen bases in 35 tries.

Catcher Brandi Bodin is batting .526 with six home runs and 54 RBI. Both will play NCAA Division II softball next year.

Hitting for high average behind those two are Sara Beyer (.407), Andrea Krause (.395), Bevin Williams (.362) and Aimee Johnson (.354).

Krause is the lead pitcher. She has an 18-3 record with a 1.70 ERA. In 135 innings, she's allowed 103 hits, struck out 121 and walked 37.

Shannon Heitz is 15-5 with a 3.60 ERA. In 116 innings, she has allowed 124 hits, fanned 100 and walked 60.

Swoyer signs here

Nathanial Swoyer, the Willmar Cardinals' top male athlete this school year, will play football and wrestle at Ridgewater College beginning this fall.

He signed a letter-of-intent Wednesday.

He plans to enter the electricians program after which he could enroll at four-year college and pare down to one sport.

He was also recruited by Concordia College and contacted by several Division II and Division I schools for wrestling or football.

The 2011 Class AAA state wrestling champion at 189 pounds will be competing again for Tom Beyer, his coach in eighth grade. Swoyer is a two-time All-Area pick in football as a linebacker and fullback.

Sebesta returns

KARE-11 weatherman Jerrid Sebesta returns to Ridgewater College to give the commencement address Friday evening at the Willmar Civic Center. The tall forward from Montevideo was a two-year starter here in basketball.

He'll speak to 290 graduates who will "walk" the ceremony out of a graduating class of 780.

After Ridgewater, he transferred to the University of North Dakota where he earned a B.S. degree in Atmospheric Science. He joined KARE-11 in Jan. 2010 after jobs at TV stations in Phoenix and Sioux Falls.

Sebesta and his wife, Emily, live in Maple Grove and have a five-month old son Beckham.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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