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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WILLMAR -- Willmar native and former Stinger Jordan Smith will be honored this season with the Stingers' first bobblehead giveaway. Smith had a standout season for the Stingers in 2010 and was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. He played last season with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, Ohio) of the short-season New York-Penn League. Smith reported to the Indians' spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Tuesday.
Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs in a loss to Portland on Feb. 19 ... Zach Benson (Stephen F. Austin) went 1-for-2 with two walks Feb. 19 ... Mike Hollenbeck (Illinois State) went 0-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI against Austin Peay on Feb. 19 ... Kenny Roberts (Alabama) hit his first home run for the Crimson Tide, a three-run shot in a loss to Florida Atlantic on Feb. 19, after transferring from Meridian Community College; Roberts is batting .250 so far with four RBIs ...
By Ben Brewster email@example.com WILLMAR -- Today is a big day for college baseball openers -- 15 Willmar Stingers players will be in action for the first time this season. Five members of the Stingers' 2012 roster already debuted in the past two weeks. The top performers so far have been outfielder Mitch Rowan (Willamette University) and pitcher Scott Lieser (St. Cloud State). Rowan, through his first three games, has three hits in nine at bats, all for extra bases -- a double, triple and home run. He also has five walks and a .563 on-base percentage.
WILLMAR -- At a Northwoods League game, you never know which players could turn into a future star. On Stingers opening night, a former one will be in attendance. Bret Saberhagen, former Kansas City Royals ace and two-time Cy Young winner, will be a special guest for the Stingers' opener against the Mankato Moon Dogs on May 30. Saberhagen's son, Drew, is the manager for the Alexandria Beetles. Drew also pitched for the Beetles for four seasons and was an assistant coach last year before getting the manager position for the upcoming season.
Less than a year after being drafted, Willmar native Jordan Smith has already started to make his mark in professional baseball. Smith, a 2009 graduate of Willmar High School, made his pro debut last season with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a minor league team for the Cleveland Indians. He made quick work of the league, being named to the All-Star Team and finishing among the league leaders in several offensive categories. Coming up next for Smith will be his first spring training. He reports to the Indians' spring complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 28.
WILLMAR -- A minority owner of the Willmar Stingers bought the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods League as part of an ownership group, the league said. A press conference Wednesday in St. Cloud announced the sale, which was completed Jan. 25. Gary Posch, who owns a minority percentage of the Stingers, was one of the initial investors with Ryan Voz and Marc Jerzak, who purchased the Stingers in 2010. "I knew them when they worked at the St. Cloud franchise and had worked with them on corporate sponsorships and that sort of thing," Posch said.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers continued to solidify their 2012 roster with four more additions Monday. Joining the Stingers are junior infielder Corben Green (Louisiana-Monroe), junior outfielders Forrestt Allday (Central Arkansas) and Stephen Talbott (Purdue) and sophomore catcher Mike Hollenbeck (Illinois State). The group includes two junior college transfers in Green and Allday. Allday played two seasons for Alvin (Texas) Community College and will debut with Central Arkansas this spring.
WILLMAR -- After a difficult 99-loss season, the focus was on the future when the Minnesota Twins Caravan rolled through Willmar on Thursday evening. So it was fitting that the three visiting players are young up-and-comers who could be important parts of a turnaround in 2012. "Worst-to-first happened (in 1990 and 1991)," Twins outfielder Trevor Plouffe said. "We're looking at that as inspiration." Plouffe was joined on the Caravan with pitcher Anthony Swarzak, former first-round draft pick Chris Parmelee and radio broadcaster Dan Gladden.
When the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa boys basketball team lost to Springfield in the final game of the Class A state tournament, it was the Jaguars' first loss of the 2010-11 season. They are looking to do one better this time around. The Jaguars are currently undefeated -- 2-0 and first place in the Central Minnesota Conference and 9-0 overall -- and ranked No. 1 in Class A. And they haven't just been winning -- they have been pummeling opponents. They've scored over 70 points six times and over 80 twice, including a 74-28 win over Paynesville on Dec.
WILLMAR -- The 2012 Willmar Stingers roster is beginning to take shape. On Wednesday they added four new players to push the roster to 16. Joining the Stingers are sophomore infielder Hunter Dozier and junior infielder Zach Benson from Stephen F. Austin, along with freshman utility man Brady Anderson and freshman outfielder/first baseman Michael Suchy from Florida Gulf Coast. Dozier is the most accomplished of the group, having started at shortstop for the Lumberjacks last season as a freshman.