Four Tigers named to 2011 West Central Tribune All-Area Baseball Team
Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta, a senior-rich team that finished 21-4 and made it to the final three of the Section 3AA Tournament, landed four players on the 2011 Tribune All-Area Baseball Team, including repeat picks Ryan Beyer and Tyler Hansen.
The Tigers went 14-2 to win the West Central South Conference and got a win over traditional power New Ulm in the playoffs.
Joining Beyer and Hansen on the 20-player All-Area team are Morris/CA teammates and fellow seniors Eric Riley and Alex Erickson.
Several other players on this year's team are also repeat selections: senior Trenton Berg of Minnewaska; junior Jonah Johnson of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg; senior Jake Rambow of Willmar; junior Dean Stier of Willmar and junior Colton Vien of Montevideo. Junior Jason Kampsen of Paynesville was selected for the third time.
Four schools had two selections each: Willmar, Montevideo, Minnewaska Area and BOLD.
In addition to Riley and Erickson, first-year selections include: Kyle Athmann of BOLD; Joe Bednar of Montevideo; Shane Bosek of Minnewaska Area; Clint Hannes of Litchfield; Jarrod Holmgren of MACCRAY; Kevin Kuefler of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa; Ben Maiers of Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart; Eric Paulson of Lac qui Parle Valley; Jake Marcus of BOLD and Tanner Tobkin of New London-Spicer.
The all-area team was selected by the Tribune sports staff after a review of player accomplishments and statistics and consultations with area coaches. The team is not selected by position.
Here is a listing of the All-Area team with a brief summary of each player:
Selected to play in the Lions All-Star Baseball Tournament last week, Beyer hit .394 with seven homers and 28 RBIs. His slugging percentage of .879 was second on the team to Riley's 1.042. The team captain and repeat all-area pick called solid games behind the plate.
Erickson, who played for Chokio-Alberta before its pairing with Morris this year, was named MVP of the West Central South Conference. The Tigers' ace and captain struck out 59 batters in 46 innings and finished 6-1 with a 2.54 ERA. At the plate, he hit .438 with four homers, 27 RBIs and 31 runs.
The speedy centerfielder led off with a .568 on-base percentage and hit .486. A repeat selection to the all-area squad, he had 15 extra base hits, including 11 doubles and two homers, and knocked in 27 runs. Hansen went 3-1 on the mound with a 2.95 ERA.
Riley hit .493 to lead the talented Morris/CA team. The shortstop had 10 doubles, four triples and seven homers and knocked in 30 runs in 71 at-bats. He also pitched, going 5-0 with three saves. In the section tournament, Riley recorded two wins in a single day in 10 1/3 innings of work.
Area coaches rate Athmann as one of the best centerfielders in the West Central South Conference. Batting leadoff, he hit .345 with an on-base percentage of .444, scored 18 runs and stole seven bases for the Warriors.
Bednar hit .406 with two homers and 13 RBIs. The speedy Bednar also stole 13 bases (in 14 attempts) and scored 23 runs. A football injury kept him from pitching and playing in the outfield for his senior season, but he transitioned into a solid player at both first and second base.
The four-year starter hit .403 with two triples, two homers and 17 RBIs for the Lakers. A repeat all-area selection, Berg also pitched, going 2-3 with a 2.35 ERA. He struck out 33 batters while walking just 11.
Bosek hit .528 with 10 extra base hits and 17 RBIs. He was a run-producer, generating an on-base percentage of .637, stealing 14 bases (in 15 attempts) and scoring 26 runs. Started four years for the Lakers.
Hannes, catching in the strong Wright County Conference, threw out a third of the runners who tried to steal against him (seven of 21), batted .342, scored 12 runs and knocked in another 13. Also saw time at third base.
Holmgren batted .477 with two homers and 22 RBIs. The versatile ballplayer pitched and played catcher, third base and right field. He also went 3-2 on the mound, striking out 30 batters in 23 innings while compiling an ERA of 3.34.
Johnson hit a robust .603 in the Camden North Conference with 13 extra base hits, including two homers. A repeat all-area pick, he also knocked in 25 runs - batting in the lead-off spot - scored 30 runs and stole 32 bases in 33 attempts. Johnson also went 2-3 in the mound with 60 strikeouts in 43 innings and an ERA of 2.93.
Kampsen, a three-time all-area pick, was dominant whether pitching or batting. On the mound, he went 7-1, striking out 83 batters in 53 innings while compiling an ERA of 1.56. He batted .531 with five homers, 23 RBIs and 32 runs.
Kuefler hit .359 in the Central Minnesota Conference with an on-base percentage of .481. He also scored 15 runs, knocked in 16 and stole 13 bases in 15 chances. The four-year starter also showed great range in centerfield.
A top pitcher in the West Central South Conference, Marcus went 2-3 with 31 strikeouts, 12 walks and an ERA of 1.95 in 43 innings. He threw back-to-back shutouts against Paynesville and Yellow Medicine East. Offensively, Marcus batted .413 with five doubles, a homer and 17 RBIs.
Maiers hit .417 and had nine extra base hits in just 48 at-bats, including four triples and two homers. A three-year starter for the Mustangs, he also knocked in 16 runs, stole 12 bases (in 13 attempts) and handled the duties at shortstop when he wasn't pitching.
Paulson hit .405 and knocked in 21 runs for the Eagles. A third of his hits went for extra bases, including four homers, and he stole 15 bases in 16 chances. Behind the plate, Paulson threw out 12 of 16 runners attempting to steal.
A repeat all-area selection for the AAA Cardinals, Rambow hit .329 with 18 runs (tops on the team) and 10 RBIs in the Central Lakes Conference. The team captain played both middle infield positions and threw some innings in relief.
Stier, who also made the all-area team as a sophomore, batted .403 with 10 doubles, two triples and 12 stolen bases, all tops on the Cardinals. Also led Willmar with a .612 slugging percentage and played solid defense at first base.
Tobkin emerged as a force for the Wildcats, hitting .426 with six doubles, three homers, 15 runs and 12 RBIs. Showed a strong, accurate throwing arm in the outfield and also got some spot time on the mound, going 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 17 innings.
The junior, who also made the all-area team as a sophomore, hit .406 with three doubles, a homer and 15 RBIs. He only struck out three times for the Thunder Hawks and played brilliantly in the outfield, tracking down balls in the gap and making several diving catches.