Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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Brian Thorstad earned the Most Valuable Award for the Osakis boys' track team after a strong senior season. Thorstad missed out on going to state in the 100-meter dash by just 0.01 seconds at the section meet. He took first in that event at subsections and was one of nine Osakis boys who earned all-conference honors at the Prairie Conference meet. Zane Pahl was named the Rookie of the Year for the Silverstreaks. Grant Backes earned the Will to Win Award and the Most Improved Award.
The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs could only watch as the Carlos Cougars chipped away at a four-run deficit before Brad Nyberg delivered the game-winning hit in an 8-7 win for Carlos on Sunday. A game between the two division leaders in the Resorters League lived up to the billing. The Bluedogs struck with a solo home run in the first inning from Chris Shea and eventually built a 7-3 lead in the fourth. That came after a five-run run third inning that was highlighted by a two-run, two-out double from Monte Hinzmann. The Cougars chipped away from there.
The Osakis baseball team needed a spark in the middle innings of the Class A state championship game on June 17 when assistant coach Matt Hoelscher noticed the dugout was being a little too quiet. The Silverstreaks were looking to rally as they went to bat after falling behind 2-0 through three and a half innings. "Grayson, get em' going," Hoelscher said from the first-base coaches' box. Grayson Fortenberry took his coach's words to heart and got his teammates engaged in the usual baseball chatter. "That's the type of kid he is," head coach Shad Schmidt said.
Alexandria's Beau Backhaus had a senior season to remember for the Cardinals baseball team and others around the state have taken notice. Backhaus recently took part in the Play Ball! Minnesota All-Star Tournament in Chaska and was also voted to the Class 3A All-State team. The right-hander played on the North All-Star team as they split the two games they got in on June 29 after having their game the day before got cut short because of rain. "I thought it was a great experience for him," Cardinals' head coach Russ Hinrichs said. "There are 20 awfully good baseball players on each team.
The Alexandria VFW I team is 13-3 on the season after sweeping Fargo on Monday, but one of those losses came to Alexandria's VFW II team last Friday. The VFW I (16s) team took care of Fargo 5-2 and 6-3 behind a couple strong pitching performances on Monday from Dan Kuhn and Kris Setterstrom. That came after the VFW II (15s) team used five errors to help them secure a 3-1 win last Friday. Setterstrom won the five-inning nightcap against Fargo by scattering four hits and a walk.
The Alexandria Blue Anchors have struggled to throw strikes and field the ball through the first month of the season, but it reached new depths on Tuesday night. The Blue Anchors gave up a season-high 24 runs on their home field in a 24-5 loss to Willmar that dropped them to 5-20 on the season. Twenty of those runs came over the final four innings as the Stingers (18-9) jumped all over the Alexandria bullpen. "You got to keep working at it," first baseman Tim Cusick said of bouncing back after a game like this. "It's baseball. You got to play every day.
The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs dropped their first game of the season last weekend but still led the Resorters West Division as they get set to host the East's top team this weekend. Brandon-Evansville ran into a hot-hitting Osakis team as the Hawks scored four runs in the first inning and had 13 hits overall on Sunday on their way to a 7-4 win. That knocked the Bluedogs to 9-1, but they still held a two-game lead in the West with four to play after beating Urbank-Parkers Prairie 7-1 on Saturday. Osakis got eight good innings from former Silverstreaks' player Matt Laven to secure the win.
The Brandon-Evansville Legion baseball team moved to 5-0 on the summer after a 4-3 win over Wheaton last week. Brandon-Evansville walked off with a win on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh inning during a 3-3 game. Craig Campbell led off with a bunt single and then stole second. Blake Ohren bunted him over to third before James Huisman put down the suicide squeeze to drive him in with the winning run. That made a winner out of Tom Bosek on the mound.
The Carlos Cougars moved to 9-0 on the season with another dominant pitching performance, this time from Jay Schueler, in a 5-2 win over Long Prairie this past Saturday. Schueler went all nine innings for Carlos on his way to a 14-strikeout performance. He scattered five hits and three walks. His only blemish came in the fifth when Long Prairie put up two runs after the Cougars had already taken a 5-0 lead through the first two innings. Aaron Noetzelman and Gideon Burnham helped their team grab that early lead.
The Brandon-Evansville softball team had three players named All-Pheasant Conference as senior Carlie Steffenson and juniors Kinsley Randt and Megan Kokett earned the honor. Ashby had five players named all-conference as the Arrows' Paige Nelson was named Pitcher of the Year and Madison VanSanten was named the conference MVP. Ashby head coach Kandace Norby was also named the Pheasant Coach of the Year. Junior third baseman Jeannette Evavold, sophomore first baseman Cassandra Jordan and senior catcher Meg Roley joined their Ashby teammates on the all-conference team.