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Baseball: Litchfield's Boerema finds another good situation

After dominating at D-III, former Litchfield standout is transferring to D-I Kansas State

Baseball roundup
Mankato MoonDogs pitcher and Litchfield High School alum Owen Boerema winds up during a Northwoods League game against the Willmar Stingers on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Owen Boerema knows he’s been put in a lot of good situations.

The 2019 Litchfield High School grad was a Class AA All-State pitcher for the Dragons who set school records for career strikeouts (212), ERA (1.22) and wins.

Playing at Division III University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Boerema was tabbed as an All-American. He won the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year for the second straight year, and was this season’s Region 9 Pitcher of the Year.

On Tuesday, Boerema wrapped up his second summer playing for the Mankato MoonDogs of the Northwoods League.

And next year, Boerema makes the jump to Division I baseball, announcing on Monday that he’ll be transferring to Kansas State. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.

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“With the people I’ve been around and the way things have been laid out, I’ve been super blessed this past spring and the last couple years, honestly,” Boerema said.

While Boerema had an outstanding sophomore campaign at Northwestern in 2021 (7-2, 2.08 ERA, 92 strikeouts), there were bigger things to come. The groundwork for an even better junior season came during his first stint with the MoonDogs.

“Pitching for the MoonDogs last year, things didn’t always go the way I wanted,” Boerema said, “but there was a lot of growth on the field and off the field in how I prepared for games and recovered from games. It was learning a lot from the high-level guys.”

He added, “I used to be where I’d show up (and) I’d throw. Now, the preparation part, getting my arm ready to throw and taking care of my arm has been big. And just more of the mental side has been the biggest thing overall. If you’re a pitcher, you have to think you’re better than the hitter. You have to just attack them or else you’re going to be tentative and it’s not going to work out.”

The 2022 college season started slowly as Boerema had a 1-1 record with a 3.72 ERA in his first four starts.

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Mankato MoonDogs pitcher and Litchfield High School alum Owen Boerema fires off a pitch during a Northwoods League game against the Willmar Stingers on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

But through the month of April, Boerema was a force. He won all five of his starts that month and gave up just two runs. The 6-foot-5 left-hander tallied double-digit strikeouts in all five games, including a school record 21 in a 5-0 win over Crown College on April 9.

“I was just in a groove,” Boerema said about the stretch. “My team was playing really well behind me and always gave me run support, which takes a lot of stress off. I was just put in good situations and made the best of ‘em.”

He finished this spring with a 9-2 record, a 1.42 ERA and 139 strikeouts with 26 walks and a .172 batting average against. Northwestern won the UMAC with a 17-4 conference record (27-16 overall).

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Following his dominant college season, Boerema admits making the jump was in the back of his mind. After discussing it with his coaches, he entered the NCAA transfer portal to explore his options.

“I wasn’t necessarily going to leave,” Boerema said, “but that way, you can talk to coaches.”

Coming out early and most aggressively was Kansas State. The staff had seen Boerema pitch for the MoonDogs. Two other Wildcats — pitcher Tyson Neighbors and infielder Orlando Salinas — are on Mankato’s roster. Kansas State finished seventh in the nine-team Big 12 Conference with an 8-16 record (29-29 overall).

“I went on a visit and it was really impressive,” Boerema said. “The coaching staff and culture seemed to be really great and that’s really important.

“It’s been a whirlwind with how things have worked out.”

Boerema made four starts for the MoonDogs this summer, going 2-1 with a 0.78 ERA and 27 strikeouts and seven walks over 23 innings. His last start came against the Willmar Stingers on Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium, 27 miles from his hometown.

“I had a lot of family and some high-school buddies here. There were old coaches and just fans of baseball in the area,” Boerema said after the game. “It’s awesome to see that I graduated three, four years ago and to still have that support.”

The last start for Mankato didn’t go the way Boerema had hoped. He took the loss after five innings of work, striking out four with four runs (one earned), five hits and two walks allowed.

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Owen Boerema.JPG
Owen Boerema is a 2019 graduate of Litchfield High School. He was a Class AA All-State baseball selection as a senior.
File photo

But, Boerema is quite happy with how year two with Mankato wrapped up.

“The team was awesome; I made a lot of good relationships,” he said. “I pitched the way I wanted to. I didn’t do that last summer. This summer, I felt really good about how I threw.”

As he trades in his purple Eagles jersey for a purple Wildcats jersey, Boerema believes himself to be in another good situation.

“The people, the coaching staff I met, they seemed genuine and they really wanted me there,” Boerema said. “That felt good to be wanted. Kansas State, it just felt right.”

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