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 -- The Willmar Stingers stumbled out of the gate on a cold and rainy opening night, surrendering 16 hits and making several mental and physical mistakes in a 10-4 loss to the Mankato MoonDogs on Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Starting pitcher Scott Lieser put the Stingers in an early hole, giving up three runs in the first inning and four more in the second. Lieser allowed 12 hits, but the defense didn't do him any favors.
WILLMAR -- After a long offseason, it's finally time to play ball. The Willmar Stingers will open the 2012 season 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium against the Mankato MoonDogs. The Stingers, entering their third season in the Northwoods League, will try to get over the hump in 2012 after finishing with identical 39-31 records in their first two seasons. They finished in third place overall in 2011 in the Northwoods League North Division and second place overall in 2010. Field manager Matt Hollod will return for his third season in Willmar as will pitching coach Tyler Shepple.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers have finalized the roster for the 2012 season. Eight players are returning from last season, notably outfielder Mitch Rowan and pitcher Scott Lieser, who join 28 newcomers from college baseball programs around the country. The roster includes 29 full-time players and seven on temporary contracts. The team is carrying four catchers, eight infielders, six outfielders and 18 pitchers, including several two-way players such as Florida Gulf Coast's Brady Anderson, who pitches and can play in the infield. The official roster, as of May 24: Catchers: J.D.
WILLMAR -- With three weeks to go before opening day, the Willmar Stingers completed their coaching staff with the addition of Steve Sanchez to coach hitting and infield. He joins manager Matt Hollod and pitching coach Tyler Shepple who have both been with the Stin-gers since the inaugural 2010 season. Sanchez comes to the Stingers from San Diego Mesa College where he has coached for the past five years. He played for San Diego Mesa from 2002-05.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers roster is nearly complete with the team signing five more pitchers for the 2012 roster this week. The moves push the roster to 29 players. Four of the five are sophomores or juniors for Division I programs and should inject some experience into the Stingers' pitching staff. But the most intriguing could be Richie Navari, the lone junior college player to be added. Navari, who is a sophomore for Scottsdale Community College, was once a recruit for Duquesne University.
WILLMAR -- Jordan Smith is moving his way up the ladder. The Cleveland Indians prospect and Willmar native finished up his first spring training this weekend and was assigned to the Lake County Captains on Tuesday. The Captains, based in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, are in the low Class-A Midwest League, the lowest class of the minors that plays a full season. The Captains' season opener will be Thursday at Fort Wayne (Ind.). Smith said he originally thought he might be assigned to the high Class-A Carolina Mudcats, but the Indians sent him to Lake County instead.
Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) hit a walk-off single over the left field fence in the 11th inning of Saturday's game to give the Lumberjacks a 4-3 win over UT-San Antonio. The sophomore infielder's game-winner would have been a home run had he not passed the runner on the base paths as he was rounding first base. It was Dozier's third hit of the game to push his season batting average to .352. The hit would have been his seventh home run. Even with the loss of that shot, he leads the team in home runs (6), batting average, RBIs (16), slugging percentage (.648), hits (32) and runs (19).
MOORHEAD -- Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa is headed to the Minnesota Class A state tournament a second straight year after a dominating 80-38 victory over Ada-Borup to win Section 6A on Friday at Concordia College in Moorhead. The Jaguars (30-0) jumped out to a 32-7 lead at 8:30 in the first half and didn't look back. "We just came out on fire," BBE head coach Dave Montbriand said. "Forced turnover after turnover and turned them into baskets." Connor Goodwin's double-double paced the Jaguars with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers solidified their pitching with the addition of four hurlers on Thursday, including a Minnesota Gopher freshman. The Stingers' pitching staff now sits at 11, and the total roster size at 24 players. One of the newcomers is Minnesota's Lance Thonvold, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native and graduate of Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.
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.