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Willmar notebook: Ex-pitcher keeps Mustangs in repair

As Patty Erickson, she pitched Willmar to the championship game of the 1994 Class AA state softball tournament at Caswell Park only to fall to another Central Lakes Conference team, St. Cloud Tech, 3-1.

That ended five illustrious springs as the Cardinals’ top hurler. She earned all-conference honors each of those seasons and three MVP awards. She played those years for Coach Guy Nelsen, who knew as much about the sport as anyone, but she also had the guidance of a Minnesota HOF pitcher growing up in Blomkest — her father, the late Dick Erickson.

Patty was recently recognized for 10 years of full-time employment at Southwest Minnesota State University. If you count being a student, graduate assistant and full-time employee it’s been 18 years at Marshall.

She is one of three assistant athletic trainers under head trainer Laura Crowell.

Both she and Crowell also do some teaching and Patty oversees the swimming pool. There are also three graduate assistants on staff who work for free tuition and a very small stipend.

Patty works primarily with football, wrestling and basketball, and has added cross country and track this year.

“Wrestling is by far my favorite,” she told me in an email. “The guys are awesome and [former Ridgewater coach] Jesse Nelson is a great friend and fantastic co-worker.”

Now Patty Myrvik, she started as a student trainer in 1997. In January 2003, she was named assistant athletic trainer and SMSU Aquatics Director.

She pitched four seasons on the Mustang softball team and ranks among the program’s career leaders in complete games, appearances, strikeouts and wins. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and exercise science with a minor in coaching and earned her master’s in education from SMSU.

Patty and her husband, Matt, live in Minneota, with their son, Owen, and daughter, Taryn.

Wood bat slowpitch

Brad Bonk at WCER has announced that a Wood Bat Slowpitch Softball League on Tuesday night is being offered for the first time at the North Swansson softball fields.

Bats will be provided, or bring your own.

“We will also be using a harder softball with a .47 cor. 575 compression,” Bonk stated.

The new league will start May 28 and wrap up in late July or early August, depending on the weather. The registration deadline is May 20 with a fee of $270. Most nights teams will be playing double-headers.

Outcomes in established leagues, mainly out East, indicate that wood-bat softball is more of a singles-hitter game with manufacturing runs by taking an extra base. Home runs and balls in the gap will occur but will be more infrequent than what is taking place during a slow pitch game using today’s aluminum-bat technology, Bonk commented.

“If you can make the routine defensive plays you should be in most games,” he states.

If interested in playing or getting a team together contact Bonk at the WCER office at 320-231-8490. Area teams are welcome.

Dunlavy is All-America

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association announced its 2013 All-America classes on Monday, a list that included three Jackrabbits named to one of the three All-America teams, including South Dakota State junior Laura Dunlavy. The Willmar graduate earned NCEA First Team All-American in reining.

“Laura goes above and beyond in every aspect of her training with extra workouts and extra practices,” head coach Megan Rossiter said. “She has a great work ethic and attitude, so it’s great for her earn this recognition for her phenomenal season.”

In addition to Dunlavy, two Jackrabbits earned NCEA Honorable Mention All-American honors; senior Lauren Kerr in equitation on the flat and freshman Jessie Miller in reining.

The Jackrabbits continue preparations for the NCEA National Championships, which begin on April 18 and run through April 20 at the Extraco Events Center in Waco, Texas.

On the fly

n Willmar Cardinal distance runner Ryan Sawyer has signed a National Letter of Intent to run DIII cross country and indoor/outdoor track at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. He’s participated in the Class AA state cross country meet has won several all-conference awards.

n Willmar native Jordan Smith went 2-for-12 with a double and an RBI helping the Carolina Mudcats sweep their three-game opening series with Winston-Salem at Five-County Stadium on Sunday in the Class A Carolina League. Smith is starting his third year in the Indians’ organization. On Monday, the Mudcats fell 7-6 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Smith was 0-for-4 with a walk and his first stolen base. Playing right field, he batted third behind two first-round draft choices — CF Tyler Naquin (15th overall 2012) and SS Francisco Lindor (8th overall 2011).

n Willmar Cardinal sprinter and long jumper Rose Jackson has been named CLC Performer of the Week in Girls Field Events. She broke the indoor meet record in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet at St. Cloud State on Saturday. She improved on the old record by 4 inches.

n The KRA Speedway at the fairgrounds has scheduled a May 2 season opener, the first of five race nights in the month. Test ‘n’ Tune is set for April 26.

n Track and field college athlete Liberty Slinden, a 2009 ACGC graduate, picked an exciting campus to be on with both basketball teams in the national championship game when she transferred from Purdue University after two varsity seasons. Slinden is throwing the shot for the Louisville Cardinals. Last weekend the junior weights specialist tossed the steel ball 47-4 to place sixth at the Tiger Classic in Auburn, Ala. She had an indoor best of 51-0 at the Big East Championships to place fourth. Slinden won the Class A state shotput in 2008, her junior year.

n ACGC senior Dylan Hoerchler scored 13 points in the Blue team’s 119-106 loss to Silver at the 9th annual North Central All-Star Game played at Bemidji State University on Sunday. Hoerchler was second in the 3-point contest with 15 makes.

n The Willmar Optimist Track and Field Meet scheduled for Thursday has been canceled due to weather concerns. Teams scheduled to attend were Community Christian, Central Minnesota Christian, Marshall, New London-Spicer, Redwood Valley, Rocori and Willmar.

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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