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Five members of the Weichert Real Estate/Yde's Major Appliance slow-pitch team playing in Brainerd's Tuesday Night Men's Softball League may have started their careers in different regions of the Midwest, but today they're teammates with many things in common. Patrick Trottier began playing softball in Bismarck, N.D.; Ben Meister in Iowa; Robby Rick and Dan Przybylski in the Twin Cities; and Nate Geike, Brainerd and Pine River leagues.
The Nisswa Lightning stayed alive in the Region 8C amateur baseball playoffs with a 6-5 victory over the Lastrup Lakers on Sunday, July 30, in Pierz. Nisswa, 1-1 in the region tournament after losing to the Avon Lakers 3-2 on Saturday, July 29, now plays the Fort Ripley Rebels in an elimination/state qualifying game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, in Avon. The Lakers will face Buckman in the winners' bracket game while St. Stephen faces Sobieski in the other elimination/state qualifying game.
The Fort Ripley Rebels captured the Victory League North Division amatuer baseball playoff title and advance to this weekend's Region 8C tournament as the North's top seed following a 7-2 win over the visiting Nisswa Lightning on Sunday, July 23. The Rebels scored four times in the first inning on Bill Sather's two-run single and RBI hits by Dustin Littlefield and Brian Skluzacek. Fort Ripley eventually led 7-0 after four innings before Nisswa scored twice in the eighth on Aaron Jenkins' two-run double.
The Pine River-Backus girls' track team placed second at the Northland and Northwoods Conference meet on Thursday, May 11 at Lakes of the Woods High School in Baudette. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley claimed the girls' title with 133 points, followed by the Tigers with 109, Clearbrook-Gonvick 103, Northome-Kelliher-Blackduck 72, Nevis 59, TrekNorth 24, Lake of the Woods-Rainy River 19 and Cass Lake-Bena 12.
The Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday and Saturday, April 28-29, around Nisswa. The milestone event was an ideal time to reflect back on the first Run for the Lakes event, which took place April 26, 2008, in heavy snowfall.
The Pequot Lakes Patriots softball team will be counting on their returning letterwinners after graduating its entire infield, including the Patriots' starting pitcher and catcher, from a squad that finished as Class 2-A state runners-up last spring.
The Pine River-Backus Tigers softball team has 11 letterwinners from a squad that advanced to state for the first time in program history. The Tigers were Upper Mississippi Conference champions with a 9-1 record in South Division play, and finished 21-9 overall. PR-B, which finished 12-6 in the regular season, came through the loser's bracket of Section 5A to defeat Sebeka by scores of 11-9 and 8-7 in the championship game.
The Pine River-Backus Tigers varsity baseball team has a new head coach for the first time in 14 seasons as Michael Dinnel takes over for Steve Snavely. "This is a great group of kids with a good amount of experience," said Dinnel, who will be assisted by Ben Kinser. "Our attitude and effort will determine the amount of success we have this year. I would also like to thank Steve Snavely for his support during the last four years that we coached together."
The Pequot Lakes Patriots have a young baseball team that did gain some valuable playoff experience last spring. The Patriots, who finished 5-3 in the Mid-State Conference and 11-11 overall, return nine letterwinners. They include seniors Ethan Lehman, pitcher, Brady Jurek, infielder and Casey Welsh and Grant Maciej, outfielders; junior pitchers Zach Sjoblad, Luke Schmokel and Deven Psyck; and sophomore pitchers Tyler Manley and Marcus Klein.
The Pine River-Backus boys track and field team gained some new upper-class members while the Tiger girls have a competitive core of athletes back this season. "We're getting more kids out for track, and the boys should be competitive as some of the newcomers are upperclassmen that have shown promise," said PR-B coach Tom Demars. "The girls have a core of returning athletes who will be competitive, but the depth is lacking."