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Stingers add 5 pitchers to roster

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers roster is nearly complete with the team signing five more pitchers for the 2012 roster this week. The moves push the roster to 29 players.

Four of the five are sophomores or juniors for Division I programs and should inject some experience into the Stingers' pitching staff.

But the most intriguing could be Richie Navari, the lone junior college player to be added.

Navari, who is a sophomore for Scottsdale Community College, was once a recruit for Duquesne University. That fell through when he didn't meet admission requirements, and he wound up undergoing Tommy John surgery after transferring to Scottsdale.

He took a medical redshirt for the 2010 season and pitched 9.1 innings last season, but has come on strong this year.

In the fall he signed a letter of intent to play for Louisiana Tech next season, and in 45.1 innings for Scottsdale, he has a 4-3 record with a 3.77 ERA and 35 strikeouts.

The other pitcher who could do some heavy lifting for the Stingers is Jacob Cage, a sophomore for Azusa Pacific University.

Cage had a standout freshman season for the Cougars, finishing at 7-6 with a 3.47 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 85.2 innings.

This season, he leads the team with 73.1 innings pitched. He's started 11 games and has a 4.05 ERA and 54 strikeouts.

Another addition coming off an injury is Kelsey Outram, a junior at Southern Utah. He struggled through his first two seasons before redshirting last year, but appears to have turned a corner.

In nine starts and 59 innings, he's tossed three complete games and struck out 32 for a 3.04 ERA.

A pitcher's role on the Stingers depends on their school's plan for their workload, but Cage, Outram and Navari join Thomas Taylor and George Asmus as guys who have thrown a lot of innings this season and could find their way into Willmar's starting rotation.

"I feel like we should have some seasoned arms when our team arrives in late May," Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said. "The downside could be that some guys would have logged a lot of innings but we can work with it and find them the best role on the staff."

The final two additions are both transfers from junior colleges and being in their first seasons at Division I programs have not seen much playing time yet.

Jon Flinn, a transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College, has a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 innings for Hawaii.

Andrew Pulido has a 4.38 ERA in 12.1 innings for San Francisco after playing for El Camino College last season. He also played last summer for the Bellingham Bells in the West Coast League, a collegiate summer league with teams in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

The Stingers open the season on Wednesday, May 30 at home against Mankato at 7:05 p.m.

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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