SAUK RAPIDS – The Central Lakes Conference baseball race was a confusing affair for most of the season, mimicking Section 8-3A, which shares many of the same teams.
Sauk Rapids was in the midst of the fray. The Storm led the conference early, slumped mid-season, then played fairly well as the regular season came to a close.
Jeremy Thorson, a senior right-hander, is ready to see what lies ahead.
“I’m excited,” Thorson said. “We were inconsistent.
“We started out hot, then hit a rough patch, but I think we’re playing pretty well.”
Seeds were announced Friday and went as follows: No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville (15-5), No. 2 Bemidji (12-7), No. 3 St. Cloud Apollo (12-8) and No. 4 Brainerd (13-7) get first-round byes and are hosts at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
Brainerd won the CLC, so it’s a bit of a surprise that it is seeded behind Apollo, but that’s how the season went. Apollo did sweep Brainerd during the regular season.
The noon Monday play-in games are: No. 9 Becker (10-9) vs. No. 8 Monticello (8-12) at St. Michael, No. 12 St. Cloud Tech (7-13) vs. No. 5 Sartell (12-8) at Brainerd, No. 6 Alexandria (13-7) vs. No. 11 Sauk Rapids (9-11) at Apollo (which uses the Municipal Athletic Complex for home games), and No. 7 Moorhead (9-11) vs. No. 10 Big Lake (6-14).
Play continues Thursday, with the final rounds June 1 and 3 at the MAC.
For Thorson, a three-sport athlete, the high school career is winding down.
“I think we can make a run if we we can come together, which I think we will,” Thorson said.
While high school baseball is closing down, Thorson’s career is still going strong. He is headed to Minnesota-Duluth to continue playing baseball. There, he is looking at being a biology major.
The decision to attend UMD seemed obvious to him.
“First off, the city is awesome up there,” he said. “The coaches were really welcoming.
“The teammates were really welcoming. The campus is really nice. It seemed like a good choice.”
He was told he would have the opportunity to play as a freshman, though “probably not a ton my first year unless something happened unusual in the fall,” he said.
He also considered Minnesota State-Mankato and Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Mankato, like UMD, is an NCAA Division II school in the NSIC. UW-La Crosse is a Division III program.
“They (UMD coaches) told me they want to see me develop as a pitcher, to keep progressing and getting better velocity,” he said.
He credits Sauk Rapids pitching coach Greg Thayer with helping him a great deal. Thayer, a former Tech and St. Cloud State star, pitched for the Minnesota Twins in 1978.
“He’s probably one of my favorite coaches I’ve had in any sport,” Thorson said. “He’s super positive and someone with a lot of knowledge who played at a super-high level.”
Thorson and the Storm hope to be playing at a super-high level next week. They play Alexandria, a team they lost to 14-6 on a rescheduled Monday game. The winner faces Apollo. Sauk Rapids lost to Apollo twice during the season, 5-3 and 13-3.
“Our bats this week came back and no one’s hung their head,” he said. “I feel like we’re capable of playing our best baseball.”
Section 6-2A baseball seeds also were announced Friday. East Sub-Section 6-2A wound up with these first-round games Tuesday: No. 8 Holdingford (4-14) at No. 1 St. Cloud Cathedral (17-0), No. 7 Milaca (6-12) at No. 2 Little Falls (15-3), No. 6 Pierz (14-4) at No. 3 Rocori (13-7) and No. 5 Foley (12-7) at No. 4 Albany (12-7).
West Sub-Section 6-2A has No. 8 Staples-Motley (2-18) at No. 1 Minnewaska (16-2), No. 7 Osakis (4-12) at No. 2 Melrose (13-5), No. 6 Wadena-Deer Creek (4-14) at No. 3 Pequot Lakes (11-4) and No. 5 Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (11-6) at No. 4 Sauk Centre (8-8).
First-round losers are eliminated. Play moves to St. Cloud on June 1, 2 and 4.
This is the opinion of Times prep sports coordinator Tom Elliott. Contact him at 259-3661 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @sctimestom.