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VFW baseball: Luverne to open state tournament on Thursday

LUVERNE -- Brainerd is a long way to go for a baseball tournament, but it’s never too far if it’s a state tournament.

The Luverne VFW baseball team will begin state tourney play in Brainerd on Thursday. After a long practice on Monday, and a shorter practice on Tuesday, the team will head north early this morning and arrive in time for a pre-tournament banquet. Then at 10 a.m. Thursday, Luverne will take on Litchfield.

Win or lose, Luverne has a second game scheduled for Thursday -- at 3 p.m. if the southwest Minnesota squad wins the opener, or at 6 p.m. if the first game is a loss.

The tournament continues through Sunday.

Luverne placed third in the 2017 state VFW tournament, and a half dozen players from the big event are on the team in 2018. The experience should help, but head coach Mike Wenninger cautions against making too much of it.

“Like all state tournaments, every one is a little bit different,” he said.

Wenninger says his 2018 unit might not contain as many stars as the 2017 one did, but the 18-strong team is deep and versatile.

And they love baseball.

“This whole summer I’ve never had less than 16 kids at it,” said the skipper. “That says a lot about the kids who might not get a lot of playing time. It says they’re showing up, they want to learn. … This year’s kids, even last year’s kids, they bought into it.”

Wenninger expects Litchfield to provide a good first test. Litchfield was a middle seed in their region tournament, he said, and had to beat an undefeated team twice to get a state berth. From that, Wenninger assumed Luverne’s first-round opponent must be pretty deep in the pitching department.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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