ALL-AREA BASEBALL FIRST TEAM
Riley Heimerl (Lester Prairie)
The senior did a bit of everything for the Bulldogs in their final season as MCAA members. He was named All-Conference putting up a hitting line of .361 with 18 RBI and 13 runs scored, along with 12 stolen bases. Heimerl pitched in all the big games and gave opposing lineups everything he had, finishing 4-3 with a 2.18 ERA.
“Riley was a senior leader and consistently our best hitter and pitcher,” head coach Ben Machemehl said.
Sam Dennis (Mayer Lutheran)
A collective slow start for the Crusaders ramped up to a Section 4A final appearance by the end of the year, and a big reason for that was Sam Dennis at the plate.
The junior hit a home run with 20 RBI and a .410 batting average, and was as tough an out as there is; he struck out just six times in 61 at-bats. He also put himself in scoring position with seven doubles, including two big ones in the section playoffs against Legacy Christian.
Oran Hinkle (Delano)
When looking for a quality third baseman, impactful hitting and consistent defense are high on the checklist. Delano junior Oran Hinkle brought both along with a strong attitude for the Tigers.
“Oran was a team captain that gave us excellent leadership,” head coach Jeff Olson said. “He was a great offensive player for us, getting a lot of big hits in big situations.”
Hinkle led the team in batting average (.356), homers (2) and RBI (21), cleaning up the on-base efforts of his teammates in clutch moments. And he was no impatient hitter either, putting together a quality at-bat 59 percent of the time.
Jacob Niemela (Dassel-Cokato)
There’s a comfort in knowing that you have a chance to win every time a pitcher takes the mound — Jacob Niemela provided that in his senior season for the Chargers.
Tossing 70 innings, striking out 90 hitters and walking just 18 with an earned run average sitting around 2.00, Niemela’s efforts on the hill gave the offense confidence to make plays of their own.
“Jacob was the best pitcher I’ve coached in many years,” head coach Cole Flick said. “He had a plan of attack for every game and batter. His low ERA allowed us to stay in every game he pitched. His 3-4 record was impressive as no other player on our team had any previous varsity experience prior to this season.”
Niemela tallied huge wins over Holy Family and Providence Academy, the latter of which was a first-round upset in the Section 5AA playoffs. He also tossed a 10-inning shutout of Rockford, using his curveball and slider to fan hitters.
AJ Rasmussen (Delano)
The sophomore took on a big burden as a go-to starter for the Tigers and followed through with an impressive first varsity season. His fastball was hard to keep up with and he struck out 59 batters in 44 and two-thirds innings.
Rasmussen’s 2.21 ERA and 1.42 WHIP led the Delano pitching staff and it all started with his mindset.
“AJ stepped in as a sophomore and led our pitching staff from the start of the season,” head coach Jeff Olson said. “He’s got great stuff and an even better mental approach to the game. He’s mature beyond his years and has been elected as a team captain for next season.”
ALL-AREA BASEBALL SECOND TEAM
Bennett Anderson (HLWW)
Leadoff hitters are relied on to reach base. Relief pitchers are relied on to hold leads or prevent them from getting out of hand. Bennett Anderson did both with a can-do attitude and the Lakers benefited greatly from his versatility.
“He is an ultimate team guy and will do anything to help the team win,” head coach Tyler Maher said. “Very even keel, and worries about the things he can control.”
Anderson scored 30 runs from the leadoff spot and tallied a .342 average along with a .490 on-base percentage. He also was 3-3 on the mound with two saves and a 3.96 ERA, striking out 32 in 40 and two-thirds innings.
Elliott Maas (Watertown-Mayer)
Maas stepped up as a timely and consistent hitter for the Royals this season, leading the team in average at .355. Named the team MVP, he was also 2-2 on the mound hurling 22 and two-thirds innings.
He scored 10 runs and drove in nine for a team that was up and down offensively, but put up a couple big games. Starting the season near the bottom of the order, he worked his way up, eventually becoming the team’s most reliable leadoff man that got on base regularly.
Ty Hoese (Mayer Lutheran)
Steady and sure-handed at shortstop, on the bump and at the plate, Mayer Lutheran’s Ty Hoese checked all the boxes for a Crusader team that needed consistency in all three areas.
The junior hit .292 with 11 RBI and led the team with 20 runs scored, often finding his way on the base paths by hustling out close plays or putting the ball where the fielders weren’t. That was good enough for a .434 on-base percentage.
Hoese also managed to put up a 5-3 record on the mound, pulling out strong performances that ate up innings and kept the damage at a minimum. His 4.13 ERA was second on the team, and he recorded 40 punchouts compared to 18 walks in 40 and two-thirds innings.
Logan Bullock (Watertown-Mayer)
Bullock probably wasn’t expecting to be such an influential piece of the Watertown-Mayer pitching staff so quickly, but he developed into the top run-saver in the rotation, tossing a team-high 35 and one-thirds innings with a 1.98 earned run average and a 1.13 WHIP.
When on the mound, he forced hitters to beat him with the bat, not with walks or free passes to first base. Bullock struck out 35 batters and walked just nine all season.
David Dorsey (Delano)
There were a plethora of quality leadoff hitters in the area this season, but few did their job as quietly — yet efficiently — as Delano second baseman David Dorsey.
The Wright County All-Conference pick hit .324 and posted a team-high .448 on-base percentage, scoring 26 runs to lead the team and swiping 12 bases.
His maturity at the plate shined brightly by only striking out seven times in 89 plate appearances, and cleanup hitters Robbie Knight, Oran Hinkle, Ty Weiman and Gunnar Paulson combined for 72 RBI this season in large part because of his quick starts as the leadoff man.