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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Where a team sits in the polls doesn't lead to wins on the field, but the initial Let's Play Baseball Newspaper rankings released on March 30 like the chances of some area teams quite a bit. Alexandria was ranked number one in the initial polls that were released on the Minnesota State High School League's Facebook page. The Cardinals were right ahead of second-ranked Rocori, another program out of the Central Lakes Conference. Fellow Section 8-3A opponent Bemidji is ranked fourth in 3A.
BASEBALL Ashby vs. Sebeka (UNC), 5 p.m. Brandon-Evansville vs. Lake Park Audubon, 5 p.m. SOFTBALL Brandon-Evansville vs. Minnewaska, 4:30 p.m. Parkers Prairie vs. OTC, 4:30 p.m.
Most lakes in Western Minnesota are ice free, and for the anxious open-water angler, that means it's crappie time! Crappie anglers often think shallow water and finding the warmest shallow water is often the key. Warm water, at least relatively speaking, usually attracts crappies as the spring's first signs of life often occur in the warmest of the shallows, drawing hungry fish. These fish are there to feed first, and later to spawn.
Low water levels can be a nuisance for those with lake property when it comes to getting ready for the open-water season. Getting boats on lifts or traveling through shallow channels can become impossible in some situations. It can also be a hindrance for some fish species seeking out spawning habitat in the early spring. Depending on future rainfalls, low levels are a reality people and fish species might have to face.
Alexandria's Jake Drew took the ball with the Cardinals' season on the line last year against the top team in the Section 8-3A field. He had earned that shot as a sophomore. Drew was named to the All-Central Lakes Conference team, but he and the Cardinals came up short in a 7-3 loss to eventual section champion St. Michael-Albertville in his final start. It wasn't the result Drew was hoping for, but it was an experience that he relished as a young pitcher.
Every Thursday in the spring for about a seven-week period, there's a group of guys 25-and-older that gather at the Runestone Community Center to act like kids again. There might be a few more aches and pains the next day from two hours of playing ultimate Frisbee, but the annual weekly gathering has drawn a lot of interest as an opportunity to meet new people and have some fun.
The Osakis boys and girls golf teams are ready to start the season with a new head coach at the helm in Alexandria native Brady Swedberg. Former head coach Steve Tax stepped down in the offseason, with Swedberg excited to step in and take on his first varsity coaching job after playing professionally himself on a number of different tours. Swedberg and assistant coach Andrea Dwyer are getting to know their new teams after the first week of practice.
Required ATV safety training for youth A required hands-on ATV safety training class for those as young as 11 and to age 15 will take place on Sunday, April 17 from 1-5 p.m. at the Alexandria Shooting Park. Anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 16 years or older is also required by law to complete a MN ATV/OHM safety online class before operating an ATV on public lands, frozen waters, public road rights-of-way or state or grant-in-aid trails.
The Alexandria baseball team is a program that has knocked on the door of getting to a state tournament many times over the past decade. This season, with a new-look Section 8-3A field, the Cardinals are looking to get over the hump while making sure they take nothing for granted.
The spring training schedule is on the backstretch, which means optimism reigns for every team in baseball. For the first time in a long time, that optimism feels justified for the Minnesota Twins. This is a team with some very intriguing parts. Many talented young prospects are finally here after years of hearing about them coming through the system.