Jake Schultz is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune, working his first job out of college. He graduated from St. John's University (CSB/SJU) in 2016 and is a baseball fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @StJake29.
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MINNEAPOLIS - The saying that baseball is a game of inches was on full display Thursday in Willmar’s Class AAA quarterfinal against Alexandria. Alexandria’s Brady Reisdorf sent a ground ball just inches past the outstretched glove of Willmar first baseman Jack Baumgart in the third inning, allowing two teammates to score and that was all the Cardinals from the north needed to top Willmar 2-1 at Siebert Field.
BIG LAKE - Willmar's dream softball season came to an end Friday afternoon as Rocori completed the comeback from the losers bracket to win a pair against the Cardinals and win the Section 5AAA title and a trip to the state tournament. Rocori claimed the championship with a 5-0 win over Willmar in the second game after forcing a deciding game with a 14-6 win in Friday's first game. The Spartans open Minnesota State Softball Tournament play on Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
The boys are back in town. The Willmar Stingers kick off their ninth season in the Northwoods League today against the St. Cloud Rox at Bill Taunton Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Former Minnesota Twin and World Series Champion Scott Erickson will be on hand to meet with fans, sign autographs and throw out the game's first pitch. A fireworks show will cap the night.
Jasmin Estrada stares at her bat before stepping into the batter's box. She glares at it. It's like she's intimidating it, telling it to do as she demands. She steps into the box, one foot at a time, with the bat hovering just above her left shoulder, the way it has tens of thousands of times in the batting cage. Now, it's the pitcher's turn for the staredown. Estrada's older brother, Eddie, calls it her killer mentality. "As corny as it is, she has the eye of the tiger," Eddie Estrada said.
BIRD ISLAND—The BOLD Warriors are a bonafide hitting and pitching machine. The Warrior baseball team kept ACGC at bay Tuesday afternoon, winning the opening game 5-1 behind a powerful pitching performance by James Woelfel, paving the way for an offensive explosion in game two that went 13-1 in favor of BOLD.
The baseball and softball seasons started yesterday and then I blinked and now they're almost over. OK, so maybe they didn't just start yesterday, but it certainly feels like it and it's tough to put all of these games in context. Maybe you missed a day or two of the paper and you're not sure where your rival team is sitting. It's OK, I won't begrudge you. Not too much, anyways.
Willmar's track and field team has become something of a dynasty in recent years, running rampant through Section 6AA in large part due to the team's depth. That depth will be on display Tuesday afternoon at Hodapp Field in Willmar as the Cardinals look to grab yet another pair of Section 6AA True Team titles.
WILLMAR - In a softball season that often kept Ridgewater on the road, the Warriors gave their home fans plenty to cheer about in what could be the team's final regular season home game of the year. Ridgewater exploded for 10 runs in the opening inning of Game 2 against Rochester Technical and Community College Wednesday afternoon on the way to a 13-0 victory. Rochester won the first game of the doubleheader 8-4
With snow still covering plenty of the ground outside the Willmar Civic Center, Al Newman brought the warm feel of a ballpark back to Willmar Thursday night. The former Minnesota Twin enchanted attendees of Life Connections with tales from his playing days, a seven-year career that spanned stints with the Montreal Expos, Twins and, finally, the Texas Rangers. The longtime utility man played five of those seasons with the Twins. He was a member of both World Series teams in 1987 and 1991. He's one of seven Twins players to participate on both championship teams.
Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks is famous for plenty throughout his professional career, and his legacy comes back up with every doubleheader as announcers mutter his well-known phrase, "Let's play two." Ridgewater's Heidi Sellmann is taking her own twist on that quote, though, and upping the ante. She says, "Let's play three."