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Passauer won't be back with Stingers in 2017

Former Willmar Stinger manager Matt Passauer hits ground balls at a practice before the start of the 2016 season, his only one as field manager. He was the team's pitching coach for two previous seasons. Clay Cunningham / Tribune1 / 3
Former Willmar Stinger manager Matt Passauer chats with players at third base during a stoppage in play July 21 at Bill Taunton Stadium. Jake Schultz / Tribune2 / 3
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Matt Passauer's time as the Willmar Stingers' manager has come to an end.

The club announced on Wednesday that its 2016 manager and former pitching coach, who also serves as the head baseball coach at East Georgia State College, will not return to Willmar for the 2017 season.

Passauer told the team he needs to spend more time on recruiting and administrative duties at East Georgia State, a program he took over at the end of 2015.

"I can't begin to thank the Stingers players, front office, and especially the fans for their outstanding support over the past three years," Passauer said in a press release. "My time spent in Willmar will always be one of my favorite memories and be used as a building block for me during my coaching career."

During his only season as the Stingers' field manager Passauer brought Willmar to the Northwoods League playoffs with a 41-31 record. The team was particularly impressive offensively in 2016, leading the league with a .292 team batting average and 462 runs scored.

He also spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the team's pitching coach and the Stingers' arms continually performed well. His best season as pitching coach came in 2015 when the Stingers' staff led the league with a .232 batting average against. The Stingers also finished second in the league in earned run average with 3.26, allowing 227 runs that season.

"Matt is a tremendous guy and will always be woven into the fabric of the organization," Stingers co-owner Ryan Voz said in a statement. "It would have been nice to have him back but now we will seek candidates for our eighth season of Northwoods League baseball."

The Stingers hope to have a manager hired and the rest of the coaching staff finalized by mid-February. Voz and co-owner Marc Jerzak are also working with general manager Nick McCallum to build the 30-man roster for the 2017 season.

The Stingers start their season at home May 30 at Bill Taunton Stadium.