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Worthington VFW team on a mission

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sports Worthington, 56187

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

WORTHINGTON -- Determined not to look too far ahead, yet acknowledging that one solid performance isn't going to be enough to win the VFW District 3 baseball tournament, Worthington Post 3958 coach T.D. Hostikka is lining up his chess pieces for this weekend's action.

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"We have the ability to do some things. We have to maintain focus and show up the whole time," Hostikka said.

Worthington, which has one tournament loss in this double-elimination affair, will play an 11 a.m. game Saturday against Olivia at Redbird Field in Luverne. If Post 3958 wins that game, it will play again immediately afterward against No. 1 seed Pipestone. The winner of that game advances to play Marshall Blue Sunday in an 11 a.m. title game. Worthington would need to win two games Sunday to capture the tournament championship.

Post 3958 opened district tournament play last week with a 14-4 victory over Luverne. Last Saturday, Hostikka's bunch lost to Pipestone 14-4 after allowing their opponents a seven-run fourth inning. On Sunday, Worthington rebounded with a 13-3 triumph over Tracy.

Hostikka is happy with the way his team has been playing lately. Two of the last three games were among the best games Post 3958 played all year, he said. And as for that Pipestone game:

"Take two innings out of that Saturday game, and we could have done it three games in a row."

Worthington led Pipestone 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth, but four walks and a hit batter allowed Post 3958's rivals to plate seven.

Hostikka is fixated on pitching this weekend. Last week Post 3958 lost to ineligibility one of its pitchers, Luke Drooger, on a residency issue. Two 16-year-olds and one 15-year-old, plus a few others who've been relatively untested on the mound this summer, remain. Hostikka said he plans to use Nate Russell to start against Olivia.

"I feel very confident in Saturday's (first) game. After that ..." he said, leaving the rest of the sentence unfinished.

While the pitching situation is a little murky, Worthington's offense has been very solid. Russell is hitting the ball well, as is Carson Hagen. Hostikka describes Roque Soto as probably possessing the team's best pure swing, and Soto has been proficient at using the whole field. Leadoff hitter Logan Thuringer is always finding ways to get on base and has stolen seven bases over three playoff games.

"He wreaks havoc on the basepaths," Hostikka said.

At 20-14, Hostikka hopes Post 3958 can wreak a little more havoc in the district tournament -- one game at a time.

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