Archive for DEL Sports

REGION 12C ROUNDUP: Huskies, Athletics punch state tickets; two spots still up for grabs

DELANO — Serving as the mecca of Region 12C amateur baseball this August, Delano Municipal Stadium was full for multiple days last weekend as the region playoffs began and two teams have already earned berths to the State Tournament. Here’s the game-by-game rundown of what happened.

Hutchinson 8, Maple Plain 1

The Huskies lived up to their top seed billing quickly in round one, dispatching the Diamond Devils 8-1 Aug. 5. Jon DeRock tossed eight innings and allowed seven hits and one run, while Tyler Schiller’s hot bat kept sizzling with a home run.

Leading 4-0 after six innings, the Devils got one back in the top of the seventh, but a four-run eighth by Hutchinson pushed this one out of reach at the end. Jayden Fleck added two RBI while Marcus Hahn and Cody Arlt drove in runs as well.

Howard Lake 3, Loretto 1

The 4/5 matchup in a tournament is often the best game and can go either way. The Orphans got just as much as they needed to win against the higher-seeded Larks of Loretto Aug. 6, taking the game 3-1.

It was a pitcher’s duel from the start, neither team scoring until the fifth inning when Loretto got an RBI hit from Ben Leuthner. Howard Lake’s Jared Koch was masterful getting out of jams with runners on base while his team’s offense came alive just enough to take the lead late in the game.

Noah Bush was 3-for-4 and Jake Gruenhagen drove in two runs for the Orphans. Brad Bickmann added four hits. For the Larks, seven batters got on base but some baserunning mistakes cost them runners.

Buffalo 6, Litchfield 5

Brett Renshaw and Colton Haight were the heroes of the day for the Bulldogs, who scored three runs over the final two innings to beat Litchfield 6-5 in walk-off fashion Aug. 7.

Renshaw’s two-run blast in the eighth tied up the game at 5 after Litch broke a stalemate the inning before. Then Haight  laced an RBI single in the ninth inning to end the game right there for the Buffalo victory.

The two batters combined for four RBI, and Jake Duske added a home run early on. Andrew Loch and Jake Jones drove home four for the Blues.

Delano 6, Maple Lake 5

It’s tough to win when you get outhit 10-5, but the A’s overcame some wild innings to get the last run in extras, defeating the Lakers of Maple Lake 6-5 in 10 frames Aug. 7.

A three-run Toby Hanson bomb in the third inning put Delano up 4-1 and in control, but Maple Lake kept chipping away against reliever Austin Schneider. A run scored in the seventh tied up the game at five, and then a keen eye by the A’s lineup put runners in place to score the winning run. Adam Schleper poked a single through the left side to score Jeff Althoff and walk off on the Lakers.

Hutchinson 6, Howard Lake 3

With a state berth on the line, the Huskies got a stellar outing from Jeremiah Van De Steeg to hold off the Orphans 6-3 Aug. 7 and stay undefeated in the region playoffs.

Tyler Schiller homered for the second time in as many games, and Matt Piechowski, Jake Wendland and Cody Arlt all posted multi-hit games.

Cole Macziewski and Moose Streich tallied the RBI for Howard Lake, but the Orphans couldn’t muster more than one run in an inning to rally back. Brad Bickmann and Brock Goelz added two hits each.

Riley Gruenhagen tossed six innings allowing seven hits, while Van De Steeg went six and one-thirds innings while striking out six batters.

Loretto 8, Maple Plain 7

The Diamond Devils’ season ended in heartbreak in the elimination bracket of Region 12C Aug. 8, falling to Loretto 8-7 on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Maher.

Loretto jumped ahead 5-2 in the first inning with a three-run homer by Josh Gullickson, but Maple Plain wouldn’t fold that easily. They put up four scores in the fifth to take a 7-5 lead with a trio of singles.

Then an outfield error by Maple Plain proved costly in the seventh. Loretto’s Keenan Hodgkin singled home the advanced runners to tie it up, and Maher’s sac fly in the ninth ended another tight Region 12C game, keeping the Larks alive and the Devils eliminated.

Maple Lake 10, Litchfield 2

The Laker offense hummed nearly every inning as they pushed past Litchfield 10-2 Aug. 8 to stay alive in Region 12C elimination bracket play.

Donnie Mavencamp added up three RBI and Ben Clapp had two runs driven in for Maple Lake. Grant Mergen tossed six quality innings to hold down the Blues.

Litchfield had two hits and two RBI by leadoff man Cody Klabunde, but Avery Liestman, Dylan Koll and Jack Ramthun couldn’t hold off a Maple Lake offense that wanted big revenge after a 10-inning loss to Delano the day before.

Delano 9, Buffalo 6

Early offense and shutdown pitching against one of the best lineups in the league helped the A’s reach state qualifier status Aug. 8, defeating the Bulldogs 9-6 behind Mike Weber’s strong start and a couple crooked number offensive innings.

Scott Benjamin had a homer and two RBI for Delano, and all but one batter sprayed a base hit. The A’s walked 10 times to help their on-base percentages, and though they scored nine times they still left on 11 runners.

Weber’s five innings and two runs gave the offense ample time to warm up, and key innings of three and four runs got Delano the lead for good after four innings. A small scare by Buffalo cut the lead to 8-6 after the top of the seventh, but an insurance run and a nice save outing by Jake Nelson clinched the Delano win.

For more Region 12C and amateur baseball coverage, follow @JaredNHR and @Kovar_HJSports on Twitter.

PODCAST: Crow River Valley League Playoff Preview

Herald Journal Sports Editors Kip Kovar and Jared Martinson breakdown all things in the Crow River Valley League heading into the postseason.

Click here to listen now!


AMATEUR BASEBALL: North Star League Playoff Scenarios (July 22)

With five teams in the Herald Journal coverage area, the North Star League is as familiar of an amateur baseball experience as it gets in the neighborhood.

The Delano Athletics, Loretto Larks, Howard Lake Orphans, Dassel-Cokato Saints and Cokato Kernels all partake in the league and Region 12C — and they are scattered throughout the standings with just a couple games left on the regular season schedule. Today we’ll talk through playoff scenarios for all of them and what the greater region standings can result in by July 25 as well.

As of July 22, the standings look like this:

1. Loretto (14-4)

2. Hutchinson (14-4)

3. Delano (13-4)

4. Buffalo (13-5)

5. Howard Lake* (11-8)

6. Litchfield (8-10)

7. Maple Lake (8-11)

8. Maple Plain (7-11)

9. Cokato* (6-14)

10. Dassel-Cokato* (5-14)

11. Montrose/Waverly* (2-16)

*Cannot move up or down in standings

The race for first place

The Loretto Larks picked up a much-needed win over Buffalo Wednesday to earn the advantage in a crammed top-four race. Ace pitcher Colton Petron’s complete game and some timely late offense made it a 7-2 final, the Larks splitting the season series and winning the next tiebreaker by head-to-head runs scored, 18-17. Now Loretto has a game up on Buffalo along with the tiebreaker.

Loretto had Corey Koskie in the lineup Wednesday and he delivered with a solo homer in the eighth inning — if he’s around for region playoffs that adds another big bat to the Larks artillery. They’ll need some reliable starting pitching after Colton Petron during that stretch as well. Look for George Faue and Donny Schroeder will be names to watch in that regard.

Delano beat Loretto twice, but the A’s are in a bit of a slump with three games in three days to finish the season. The Athletics have a big one with Hutch Friday, a rescheduled rematch with recent upstart Maple Plain after that and a finale at home against Litchfield. If Delano wins against Hutch by more than one run, they’ll overtake the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Huskies. They lost the runs scored matchup with Buffalo in a split.

Delano is in deep search of a consistent arm on the mound, and though the lineup is quiet right now, you can’t count out their offense at Municipal Stadium for the entirety of the tournament. Should the Larks take care of business against Maple Lake Friday, they’ll be looking at a possible deciding game with Hutchinson for first place in the season finale. The Huskies would need to beat Loretto by more than five runs to leap them for a tiebreaker.

Hutchinson has the most important schedule left with the chance to clinch an advantage against Delano and get revenge on Loretto. Beating the A’s and knocking off the Larks by more than five runs would earn them the number one seed. I like the Huskies’ balance of solid defense, deeper pitching than the other three teams and enough offense to get the job done.

Buffalo is the only team among the four with five losses as of July 22. They have the offense to fight with anyone (and Cal James will return to the lineup for the playoffs), but they’ll need some things out of their control to break the right way for a chance to get out of the fourth seed. Add James to the hard-hitting lineup of Jake Duske, Justin Johnson, J.D. O’Donnell and Brett Renshaw and that’s a fearsome gauntlet for any pitcher.

The three-way tie scenarios and single four-way tie possibility favor Hutchinson (and Delano) as of this moment. The matchup between Loretto and Hutchinson Sunday will be the last domino to fall in the league leader race.

Maple Plain and simple

Ever since upending Delano a couple weeks back 11-10 at the Muni, the Diamond Devils have found some newfound momentum trying to escape the play-in tournament for the region’s eighth seed.

It’s been an up-and-down league schedule for Maple Plain but one key win and a close loss early on are coming back to help them out. The Devils beat Maple Lake by two runs recently to even the series, and the next applicable tiebreaker between them is record against teams higher in the standings — Maple Plain has that advantage as well.

The Litchfield Blues are dangerously close to dropping behind the Lakers and Devils as well after losing to Maple Plain 5-3 for a total of 8 runs to 7 in the Devils’ favor. For Maple Plain to escape the play-in round, the easiest route would be to win out against Delano and Dassel-Cokato. That gives them nine wins and no worse than a tie with Maple Lake and Litchfield, who lose the tiebreakers.

If the Devils win just one of their last two, they’ll need Litchfield or Maple Lake to lose one more time as well to clinch the seventh seed or better.

Orphans have a home

Few teams in the NSL are playing as well as Howard Lake in the stretch run of the season. Noah Bush is as reliable a leadoff man as any team has, and Brad Bickmann followed by Jared Koch is not a run of easy outs by any means. The Orphans smoked Delano with 21 hits Tuesday night in a 13-2 win. Mike Dockendorf, Koch and Bush are a tough three pitchers to beat on good days, and Howard Lake needs them at the top of their games if they want a state bid from Region 12C.

The Orphans are locked in all alone as the fifth seed. The way they’re playing, I would not want to be the fourth seed playing them in round one of the playoffs. That makes the race between Loretto, Delano, Hutchinson and Buffalo all the more interesting at the top.

In the back of your mind

Howard Lake isn’t the only seed set for the playoffs before the end of the regular season slate. Cokato, Dassel-Cokato and Montrose/Waverly are all locked in as the ninth, 10th and 11th seeds, meaning they’ll play in the four-team tournament to decide who earns the eighth spot in the region tournament. The last team will not be decided until Sunday — it could be Litchfield, Maple Lake or Maple Plain.

Waverly’s two wins are against D-C and Cokato, and Cokato topped D-C twice in the Bike Path Series this year by a combined score of 8-3. We’re guaranteed a third game of that series in the play-in first round July 31 at Cokato and you can expect a possible matchup of Steve Schmitt and Jordan Flick on the mound for that one. Both teams have dangerous hitters at the top of the order, too — will the winner be able to surprise the eighth seed in the next round for the last region tourney spot?

For NSL updates, coverage and more, watch for the latest issues of the Herald Journal, Delano Herald Journal and Dassel-Cokato Enterprise-Dispatch and follow Jared Martinson and Kip Kovar on Twitter: @JaredNHR @Kovar_HJsports

MARTINSON: The NSL is primed for a photo finish

Playoffs get everyone excited, and the North Star League has my attention in my first year covering it.

Let’s set the scene quickly as we enter the final weekend of the regular season (all scenarios as of July 20):

- Delano, Buffalo, Hutchinson and Loretto are all tied for first place with 13-4 records. Buffalo and Loretto face off July 21 at Arnold Klaers Field for a rematch of the high-octane 15-11 Bulldogs win back in June.

- There are a plethora of tiebreakers to follow with these teams all meeting each other in the next couple of days; Delano plays Hutchinson July 23, Loretto plays Hutchinson July 25. We likely won’t know any of the top four standings until Sunday evening.

- Howard Lake just knocked off Delano 13-2 in dominating fashion July 20 on the road. The Orphans are locked in as the fifth seed and I would not want to see them in the region tournament.

- There’s some jostling to be done in the middle of the standings as well. Maple Plain takes on Litchfield July 21 with big implications: if the Diamond Devils win out and either Litchfield or Maple Lake loses out, the Devils can possibly avoid the play-in tournament for the eighth seed in regions.

- Speaking of play-in tournament, Cokato is the first to complete their league schedule and can sit back to watch the drama unfold this week. The Kernels are 6-14 in NSL play and will have a tiebreaker over Dassel-Cokato and Maple Plain for the eighth spot. That means they could play at home for both play-in games if things shake out that way.

- It’s been a hitter’s league all season — who has the luxury of throwing their second or third-best pitchers first to save arms for later? The State bids available in this region could go to the teams that score 40 runs in four games first.

Play-in tourney for the eighth seed begins Saturday, July 31.

For updates and coverage, follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR

2021 All-Area Boys Track and Field Team


Spencer Lade (HLWW)

For his height and size, Spencer Lade’s jumping abilities in multiple events were something to behold.

The University of Mary signee dominated conference play in the long jump and high jump, eventually reaching the State Meet in long jump and placing fifth with a PR of 20’9.5”.

Lade won seven high jumps and five long jumps this spring while sprinkling in various other events throughout the season like 110 and 300 meter hurdles and triple jump.

Joel Selseth (Dassel-Cokato)

The 200 meter dash is one event that doesn’t necessarily have the flare of the 100 or the endurance of the 3200, but if anyone made it worth watching in the Wright County Conference, it was D-C’s Joel Selseth.

The senior took home five wins in the 200 and qualified for state with a PR of 22.70 seconds, eventually taking 14th among some elite competition at state.

He also played a big role at the true team meet which D-C qualified for, helping out depth in the 100 meter dash by placing fifth.

Selseth teamed up with three other speedsters and was part of the groundbreaking 4×100 squad that finished second at state and set a new school record.

Cole Schmidt (Delano)

Not only was Schmidt fast on his feet, he was fast in the air too. That was proven by his state qualifying time for the 300 hurdles. He ended up in sixth place out of 16 at state, tying his personal best of 40.40 seconds.

Schmidt also won three different 100 hurdle titles at various competitions this season.

Brandon Knott (HLWW)

Knott surprised some people with his state meet performance in the 300 hurdles, setting a personal best with a 41.46 time which was good for sixth place.

All of his previous nine outings in 300 hurdles leading up to state were top-four finishes. He also set some big personal bests in the 110 hurdles throughout the season, culminating in a 17.05 time at the sub-section meet.

Parker Helmbrecht (HLWW)

Hembrecht’s pole vaulting campaign was a steady upward trend. He broke the school record multiple times and didn’t lose an event until finishing an impressive fifth place at the Class A State Meet.

His 13’7” vault at the Section 5A championships was the top highlight in a season full of them, and he also threw the discus consistently all the way to the sub-section meet.

TayVaire Davis (Watertown-Mayer)

It was clear during basketball season that TayVaire Davis had that extra juice in his step. It really shined during the track and field season, where Davis was able to compete in high jump and long jump at the state meet and just missed a berth in the 100 meter dash.

His PR in the 100 dash came in at 11.30 seconds May 13 and he won three times in the course of the season. His high jump qualifier for state was a PR at 6’0” and his best long jump came at the right time, posting a 20’5” at the section meet to reach state. He finished 12th at that final meet of the best of the best in the long jump.

Collin Asplin (Dassel-Cokato)

The long-legged senior was a star in 300 hurdles all year, consistently dropping times and getting top-three finishes. His long jump performances were equally impressive.

The calling card for Asplin was as a key member of the state entrant 4×100 team that took second place with a 42.65 time. He also was a part of the 4×200 squad that narrowly missed state with a third-place landing — it was also the first time the Chargers put together a fully healthy 4×200 team.

Zach Jackson (Lester Prairie)

Not often does your third try at something land you among the best of the best, but Zach Jackson did it.

He qualified for the state event in triple jump, but prior to the section meet, he’d only attempted it twice all season. He finished 11th out of 16 at the Class A State Meet with a jump of 40’9.5”, a new personal best.

Jackson also competed in the 400 meter dash and the long jump at the Section 2A championships, placing sixth and fourth, respectively.

Dylan Nelson (Mayer Lutheran)

Everything about Dylan Nelson’s 2021 season screams top-five, and that’s because he rarely ever dipped below that ranking in any meet he competed in.

The junior took first place in the 100 meter dash four separate times and set a PR at the sub-section meet with an 11.48.

His 11.75 at the Section 2A meet was just a hair behind state qualification, finishing third.

His 200 meter dash results were just as good and just as close to state level, finishing third at the section meet with a 24.22 time.

Nelson was also a key member of the 4×100 relay squad that reached the section championships with a 46.31 time.

Blake Aurich (Mayer Lutheran)

Pole vaulting is a niche skill that takes a lot of practice. Blake Aurich made it look easy against his Minnesota River competition and the Section 2A foes, winning five times and taking fourth in the section with a PR of 11’1”.

He also was a member of the Crusader 4×100 team that reached the section championship meet.

PK Moore (Delano)

There’s something about watching sprinters reach their next gear that is exhilarating to see. PK Moore of Delano had that gear which allowed him to push across nine top-four finishes in the 100 meter dash this season, including one victory.

His personal best was accomplished at the Section 2AA meet with an 11.48, but he narrowly missed the state cut by finishing third.

Moore also had seven different top-six finishes in the 200 dash, concluding with a sixth-place stop at the section meet.

Tanner Scheevel (Lester Prairie)

Few athletes can be on top of their events in such drastically different landscapes like Tanner Scheevel was this spring for Lester Prairie. Now fully recovered from a football injury last fall, he posted five top-five finishes in the 100 meter dash and won the 200 dash once.

He trotted over to the field as well and put up big distances in shot put and discus, a personal best 39’4” at the sub-section meet in shot and a 124’7” discus back in a May conference meet. He had to scratch from both at the Section 2A championships, but will be back for more next season.

Monte Gillman (Dassel-Cokato)

Just a freshman, Gillman has all the makings of a dominant sprinter. He was one of the foursome that reached state in the 4×100 relay, where the fastest of the fast compete, and helped his squad take second place with another school record broken.

He ran the 200 meter dash consistently, placing top-three five separate times, and pole vaulted for a PR of 10’0” multiple times this year as well.

Caleb Barnhart (Watertown-Mayer)

One of the better distance runners in the area, the freshman Barnhart posted eight top-ten finishes in the 800 and 1600 meter runs combined this season.

His May 20 PR of 5:39.96 in the 1600 was a huge drop in time from early in the year, and he consistently stayed around the 2:40 mark in the 800 run.

2021 All-Area Baseball 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.”


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.