Tribune notebook: Ridgewater baseball has a big week – West Central Tribune

WILLMAR – Ridgewater’s first baseball season since 2019 has had its ups and downs.
But the Warriors believe they can end 2022 on a big upswing, finishing strong and securing their first regional spot since 2016.
“My coaches and I talked about how this would be a great way to make our first season in three years,” said Ridgewater head coach Tyler Hebrink.
You have work to do.
The Warriors must finish in the top three in Minnesota College Athletic Conference Central Division scoring. Central Lakes College (9-3 MCAC Central, 22-12 overall) and St. Cloud Technical & Community College (9-5, 16-9) likely secured the top two spots.
This pits Ridgewater (5-7, 9-15), Minnesota State-Fergus Falls (3-7, 9-19) and Anoka-Ramsey Community College (2-6, 4-16) for third place.
To secure that spot, Ridgewater must finish the regular season with as many wins as possible.
That begins with a doubleheader against Riverland Community College beginning Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Bill Taunton Stadium’s Baker Field.
“These are big games for us,” said Hebrink.

Ridgewater Warriors head coach Tyler Hebrink speaks Wednesday, April 27.

Macy Moore/West Central Tribune

The Warriors then end the season with a home doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. against Minnesota State-Fergus Falls. The two teams then play two more, beginning Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Fergus Falls.
Ridgewater has had a strong weekend, sweeping Riverland on Sunday after parting ways with Anoka-Ramsey on Friday night. Winning two on Wednesday and three out of four this weekend would secure Ridgewater a May 13-15 regional berth in St. Cloud.
“That would be great after everything we’ve been through,” said Hebrink.
The Warriors have a strong lineup with a .282 batting average, .365 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage. They hit 18 homers in 24 games.
Five starters have particularly strong offensive seasons: Brad Bickman (7 HR, 24 RBI, .410/.500,846), Tyler Flis (3 HR, 14 RBI, .362/.407/.600), Josh Robb (1 HR, 7 RBI , .326/.442/.419), Bennett Knapper (6 RBI, .316/.357/.500) and Tyler Traphgaen (5 HR, 16 RBI, .286/.368/.571).
And Ridgewater’s top pitching was decent, led by Reece Schwirtz (3-2, 4.39 ERA in 26-2/3 innings), Jadrien Keavy (1-1, 4.00, 9 IP) and Brad Bickmann (3- 1, 5.92, 24-1/3IP). But when the Warriors had to dig deeper into their pitching staff, bad things happened. They have a team ERA of 8.04.
But Hebrink sees good things. Newcomers Jack Howard and Ayden Gustafson both put in strong performances over the weekend. He said both are making progress, especially Gustafson, a hard-shooting right-hander. Both he and Howard are from Renville County West.
And the Warriors are a young team. Regardless of what happens this week, everyone is back except Traphagen, fast center fielder and lead-off hitter, and first baseman Seth Resnick.
Resnick is headed to Southwest Minnesota State, the NCAA Division II program at Marshall and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference next season. Resnick is from Woodstock, Georgia and North Cobb Christian High School.

Rebekah Cleary has been hired as the new Willmar girls’ soccer coach, pending school board approval. Her stance was publicized on Monday on the Willmar Athletics Twitter page @cardsathletics.
Cleary takes over for Amanda Sellner, who was the head coach for four seasons. Sellner’s side ended 2021 with an 11-5-2 record. The Cards finished second at the Central Lakes Conference with an 8-2-1 mark, just behind Brainerd’s 9-1 record. It was one of the best seasons of the program.

Former Willmar star Leah Hansen has repeated as champion at the Drake Relays. Hansen, a senior on the South Dakota State women’s track and field team, won the 10,000 meter dash in 34 minutes and 49.31 seconds. She is the first athlete since 1995 and 1996 to win consecutive titles and the third to repeat as the all-time champion in the women’s 10K race.
Hansen was named the TicketSmarter Summit League Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week on Tuesday. It is the first time Hansen has received the outdoor honor.

New London-Spicer’s 2022 Class of Athletic Hall of Famer has been named.
The seven initiates are:
*Jessica Dahl-Delzer, 1998, volleyball, basketball, softball;
* Dan Essler, 1989–2021, football, wrestling, track and field coach;
* Margaret Essler, 1987–2021, volleyball, basketball, track and field coach;
* Shawn Hatlestad, 2011, football, wrestling, baseball;
* Aaron Johnson, 2010, football, basketball, track and field;
* Erik Tengwall, 2010, football, basketball court;
* Brandon Zylstra, 2011, football, basketball, track and field.
The NLS Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet will be held at 7pm on Thursday 15th September at the Little Crow Country Club. The banquet will include members of the 2020 and ’22 Hall of Fame classes, as well as recognition of the 1997 girls’ basketball team, the first state championship team in school history.
Contact Thayne Johnson, Director of NLS Operations at 320-354-2252, extension 2603, for more information.

Willmar boys soccer coach Jeff Winter reports that Jorge Zelaya-Velasquez has decided to continue his career at Hamline University in St Paul.
Winter also expects at least three other Cardinals from last fall’s state tournament team to join the new men’s soccer team at Alexandria Technical & Community College in the fall. They are goalkeeper Edwin Lopez, forward/forward Jairo Martinez-Coto and midfielder Diego Gonzalez.
Alex Tech is coached by Tom Roos, who was a longtime girls soccer coach at Alexandria High School.

The premier softball state of the Minnesota American Legion
The tournament will be held July 30-31 at Jaycee Park in Mankato. Mankato American Legion Post 11 is the host. Legion Girls’ Softball will be sponsored for the first time in 2022. Programs can register at

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