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Stingers Baseball: Boys are back in town

Willmar Stinger Eddie Estrada takes a cut during a July 7, 2016 game against Rochester at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Estrada is one of five Stingers from the 2016 team who are returning to the 2017 roster. Jake Schultz / Tribune1 / 6
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WILLMAR — Litchfield native and University of Minnesota outfielder Eddie Estrada is one of five Stingers from the 2016 team who will be back with the team this summer.

Estrada will be joined on the 2017 roster by Quincy McAfee of Pepperdine University, Luke Becker of the University of Kentucky, Jake Rothwell of Daytona State College and Corey Binger of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The five are the first official player signings for the 2017 season, the organization's eighth in the Northwoods League.

"All five of these guys are big additions for the our team this season," said Stingers General Manager Nick McCallum. "Our core of returning players will help provide leadership for the rest of the roster and set a great example for everyone to follow."

Estrada is back for his third overall season. Estrada joined the Stingers following his senior year at Litchfield High School in 2015, before heading to the Twin Cities and becoming part of the Golden Gophers baseball program. Last season with the Stingers, Estrada hit .302, with five home runs and 10 doubles.

During his first summer in the Northwoods League, Estrada led the team in hitting with a .354 average. He had 11 doubles, 31 RBI and 48 total hits during the 2015 season. As a freshman with the Golden Gophers, Estrada appeared in 30 games collecting 14 hits and had eight RBI.

McAfee joined the Stingers in 2016 following his senior year of high school in Houston, Texas, like Estrada had done prior to the 2015 season. As was the case with Estrada, McAfee proved he could play in the Northwoods League right away. With a batting average of .281 over 57 games, McAfee was nearly an everyday presence in the Stingers lineup. McAfee had 12 doubles, scored 39 runs, stole 12 bases and had 26 RBI last summer.

McAfee is off to a hot start to his collegiate career with Pepperdine. The 2017 college baseball season began last weekend and McAfee helped lead the Waves to a three game-sweep of St. Joseph's University. McAfee hit a homerun and had three RBI along with a pair of doubles.

Becker, originally from Fairmont, Minnesota, will be back for his third stint with the Stingers in 2017. Becker played with the Stingers briefly in 2015 but saw a lot more action during the 2016 season. Last year, Becker appeared in 48 games and hit .304 with eight doubles and 28 RBI.

Becker proved to be a quality player for the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2016 season as well. In 52 games, Becker posted a .241 average, amassing 41 hits, including 10 doubles.

Binger, from Victoria, Minnesota, rejoins the Stingers pitching staff for the 2017 season from Nebraska-Omaha. With the Stingers in 2016, Binger posted a 3-4 record and struck out 36 batters during his 57 innings on the mound.

Working primarily as a starting pitcher with the Mavericks, Binger demonstrated his ability to get hitters out throughout his sophomore season in 2016. With an 8-3 overall record, Binger tossed two complete games in 75-1/3 innings pitched.

Rothwell, a St. Petersburg, Florida native, is in his sophomore season at Daytona State. Rothwell was a mainstay in the Stingers bullpen last summer, striking out 31 batters and throwing 39-2/3 innings. Rothwell's 18 appearances were second on the team last season and he led the pitching staff with four saves (4).

Even though the season is still young, Rothwell is off to a solid start to the 2017 season with the Falcons. Rothwell has already made five starts this season and picked up his first win on Monday. In 27-1/3 innings pitched thus far, he is averaging nearly a strikeout per inning with 24 K's.