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Doug Wolter: Minnesota West baseball team's fortunes looking up

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sports Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

The Minnesota West Bluejays baseball team wasn’t as bad as its 5-25 record last spring. But part of the reason the team struggled was that its pitchers couldn’t consistently close the deal.

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That may change next year. Head coach TD Hostikka reports that four pitchers from beyond the southwest Minnesota area are coming in to bolster the staff.

They include: 6-2, 160-pound Stephen Gilliland, a righthander from Canyon Country, Calif., and Golden Valley High School; 6-2, 170-pound Daniel Wilson, a righthander from Silver Bay, Minn.; 6-1, 175-pound Chris Scheffer, a righthander from Sharon, Mich., and John Glenn High School; and 6-4, 180-pound Tavon Gibbs, a lefthander from Inkster, Mich.

Minnesota West also has a commitment from Worthington High School’s all-conference righthander, Ryan Lee, and the Trojans’ Jared Kinley, an infielder-outfielder. Joe Taylor, an infielder from Rochester, is also on board.

Last week, Hostikka signed Davan Hagge of Lake Crystal-Wellcome-Memorial, an outstanding defensive outfielder who will hold down the centerfield job. Austin Watkins, an outfielder from Mountain Lake, will come to Worthington as will infielder Skyler Robinson of Sioux City, Iowa.

“I’m very excited,” Hostikka said. “If anything, I’m excited about those four pitchers. I’ve seen tapes, I’ve been in a video chat with their coaches. These guys can really bring it, and they can hit their spots.

“We’re going to have more velocity than what we’ve seen here in a while. It’ll help us compete,” he said.

Any winning baseball team needs lots of good arms. Hostikka said strong pitching is especially key at Minnesota West’s level due to all the doubleheaders on the schedule.

Doug Peterson to join cross country Hall

Doug Petersen, who built the Adrian Dragons cross country team into a southwest Minnesota juggernaut and regular state meet participant, will be inducted into the Minnesota Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame on Aug. 5.

Petersen, who coached boys and girls cross country from 1986 to 2008 at AHS, produced five boys and five girls Red Rock Conference champions, and four boys and four girls Section 3A champions. His boys teams finished fifth or better in the state meet three times and his girls teams won Class A team championships four times from 2005 to 2008.

In 2006, Adrian won the girls Section 3A crown with 24 points and sent six individual qualifiers to state. Adrian scored 60 team points at state that year.

The even-tempered, affable Petersen won five region or section boys coach of the year honors and four on the girls’ side. He was Class A cross country coach of the year in 2005 and 2006.

Petersen was nominated for the Hall by Peter Janiszeski, who currently serves as head coach of the Luverne cross country team.

“He built (Adrian) into a statewide powerhouse for pretty close to a decade, especially on the girls’ side,” Janiszeski told me this week. “He was able to sell kids on the philosophy.”

Asides and broadsides

n The Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer is on the disabled list again. He is hitting .271 with two home runs and 28 RBIs in 303 at bats.

Mauer doesn’t deserve to be the scapegoat for the Twins’ mediocrity over the past several years, but it’s understandable that so many fans have been disappointed at both his production and his intermittent health issues. It’s a difficult thing to live up to the kind of monster contract that Mauer is playing under. And Mauer certainly hasn’t.

n I have defended Johnny Manziel’s partying ways in the past. He’s young, and there’s no law against having a good time when away from one’s work responsibilities. But now he’s being seen with Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber? I shall defend him no longer.

n So Randy Moss is now the associate head football coach at Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte, N.C., where his son Thad plays. The school claims on its website, “We are committed to excellence and desire to minister to the whole man — spirit, soul and body.” This could be a wonderful learning experience for both father and son.

n I was amazed, frankly, at the explosion of U.S. interest in the World Cup. This time, when pundits propose that soccer may have really, truly, positively turned the corner in this country, we are compelled to listen. So I sat down to watch the U.S. play, though (alas) after two minutes I began to get bored. It’s exciting to see the U.S. becoming a soccer country to be reckoned with. But could they make the nets a little wider, please?

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