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VFW baseball: Post 3958 riding hot streak before tourney

PIPESTONE — The Worthington VFW Post 3958 baseball team is heading into the South Sub-District Tournament with a full head of steam.

Sort of.

On the bright side, Worthington couldn’t have had a much stronger finish to its district schedule. It won its last four games and outscored opponents 26-7 with all seven of those runs allowed happening in the first game of that streak, a 14-7 win over Marshall Orange on June 30. It followed that with wins of 1-0 and 5-0 over Luverne and a 6-0 victory against previously undefeated Pipestone.

Those happen to be the three teams that make up the remainder of the sub-district.

“That’s the thing, we’ve beat all three of those teams,” Post 3958 coach TD Hostikka said. “’We’re going in with some confidence; confidence, not cockiness. We’ve been playing very well defensively and doing OK from an offensive standpoint. I’d say we’re going in with guarded optimism.”

The winning streak left Worthington with a 7-1 record in district play, giving it the No. 2 seed at this weekend’s sub-district tournament in Pipestone. The host team will be the top seed as it too finished with a 7-1 record, but took the No. 1 spot by earning the run-differential tiebreaker. Worthington will open up with Marshall Orange — a team it beat 6-1 and 14-7 — at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. No. 1 Pipestone will battle No. 4 Luverne at 11 a.m. Saturday in the first round. The winners of those two games will square off at 11 a.m. on Sunday, with the winner clinching a bid to the district tournament in Marshall. The losers of the two opening round games will play 4 p.m. Saturday with the winner advancing to play the team that loses the championship for the second spot at districts at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The problem facing Post 3958 at this weekend’s tournament is one Hostikka suspects might be common for teams throughout the state. Because of family vacations, church camps and other late-summer activities, Post 3958 will be missing five players, four of whom are starters or have spent a significant amount of time on the field. As a result, Worthington will have a one-person bench and guys who haven’t seen as much playing time taking over.

Hostikka said it is important to have those players ready to take on a larger role after not getting as many live reps as some of their teammates throughout the course of the summer.

“We need to minimize mistakes,” he said. “The guys who have been out there are working hard to make sure they continue to do what they have been over these past few games. They know they have to step up their game. For the guys who haven’t had as much playing time, it’s important for them to minimize mistakes. They need to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Still, Hostikka isn’t worried about his team’s chances of advancing to the next round of postseason play. After all, he knows that if his team is facing absences, a lot of other coaches are probably in the same boat. And the following weekend when play resumes, Post 3958 will be back at full strength.

“The object is to win two before you lose two,” he said. “If we can do that, we’ll make it to the final four and have everybody back.”

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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