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 Stingers' second baseman Kenny Roberts is hitting home runs at a near-record pace. Just past the halfway point of the Northwoods League season, the University of Alabama junior has already set the Stingers' franchise record for home runs in a season with 12 longballs, overtaking Blake Shepherd, who hit nine in 2011. But more impressively, Roberts is keeping pace with the all-time Northwoods League single-season homer record of 20, set by Mankato's Shaun Cooper last season.
WILLMAR -- Willmar's Corben Green extended his hitting streak to 20 games but the Waterloo Bucks topped the Stingers 6-4 on Monday at Bill Taunton Stadium. Waterloo's Thomas Lindauer hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the fourth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Bucks a lead they wouldn't relinquish. After Willmar starter George Asmus gave up two first-inning runs, the Stingers got on the board with a Michael Suchy RBI-double in the bottom half of the first.
WILLMAR -- Corben Green spent this spring with Louisiana-Monroe trying to return to form after a knee injury that ended his 2011 season. He looked like he might be there after a 2-for-4 night with a grand slam in the Willmar Stingers' 6-5 win over St. Cloud on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium. Green tore his ACL running to first base in the 14th game of the Warhawks' 2011 season and took a medical redshirt. He was batting .491 at the time of the injury, with eight doubles and one home run. "It's been a long process, but I feel OK now," Green said. "It was tough mentally and physically.
In a season when the area had two teams reach the state tournament, it's no surprise the 2012 All-Area Team is dominated by players from those squads. Lac qui Parle Valley, which lost to St. Agnes in the Class A title game Monday, led the way with four selections. The BOLD Warriors, who lost to Blackduck in the opening round of the Class A tournament, had three players selected, as did Morris/Chokio-Alberta.
WILLMAR -- Max Kuhn's fourth error of the game allowed the go-ahead run to score, and the Thunder Bay Border Cats beat the Willmar Stingers 7-3 on Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a home run by Kenny Roberts, but the Border Cats clawed back to score runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh before taking the lead with a four-run eighth. "We couldn't stop the bleeding," Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said.
In the Southland Conference this spring, two names showed up on the offensive leaderboards over and over again: Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier and Central Arkansas outfielder Forrestt Allday. Two weeks after conference play ended, they are Willmar Stingers teammates. Allday said that facing Dozier's team during the spring was like playing against a friend. "You want to beat them, yeah, but you don't hate the guy," Allday said. "Now we're on the same team and (Dozier) is a good player.
WILLMAR -- Cleanup hitter Michael Suchy had a performance to match his title, hitting a grand slam to power the Willmar Stingers past the Waterloo Bucks 10-4 on Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium. With the Stingers up 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Bucks' starting pitcher Rick Dodridge loaded the bases to give way to reliever Gunner Johnson, and Suchy greeted Johnson by hitting his second pitch deep over the left-centerfield fence. Suchy, who is batting .344 for the Stingers, said he can feel himself getting into a groove at the plate.
WILLMAR -- The pitching struggles continued for Willmar as the Waterloo Bucks rolled past the Stingers 10-2 on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers fell to 3-6 and are in fifth place in the Northwoods League North Division. They face Waterloo again 7:05 p.m. today in Willmar. Jordan Foley tossed five strong innings for Waterloo and allowed just four hits and one run. Two of his hits allowed were infield singles from Forrestt Allday and Max Kuhn. Mitch Rowan hit his first home run of the season, and Greg Fettes also knocked a single.
WILLMAR -- Hunter Dozier made quite an impression in his first home game with the Willmar Stingers. The shortstop out of Stephen F. Austin singled twice and hit a go-ahead home run, his first for the Stingers, to lead Willmar in a 13-8 slugfest over the Waterloo Bucks on Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium. After losing their first five games of the season, the Stingers have won three in a row and are in a tie for fourth place in the Northwoods North Division. They play Waterloo again 7:05 p.m. today in Willmar.
WILLMAR -- Seven former Willmar Stingers players were selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft on Wednesday. The earliest Stinger to be selected was Mitch Delfino, who went to the San Francisco Giants in the 20th round. Mikey Reynolds was taken nine picks later by the New York Yankees, followed by Joe Sever to the Cleveland Indians in the 21st, Anthony Bemboom to the Los Angeles Angels in the 22nd and Jason Leblebijian to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 25th.