Sunday, May 30, 2010

Former Twins manager is MoonDogs' opening-night guest

Former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly will be in Mankato on Wednesday to throw out the first pitch at the Mankato MoonDogs' season-opener against Rochester at 7:05 p.m. Check out the story on Kelly's appearance in Monday's sports section.
Kelly managed the Twins from 1986 to 2001, but he's best known for leading his team to World Series victories in 1987 and 1991. His one-day-at-a-time philosophy and a commitment to fundamentals still defines the team.
He loves the new Target Field, though he has strong memories of special times at the Metrodome. He still works for the organization as a special assistant to general manager Bill Smith.
On Wednesday, he'll throw out the first pitch and sign some autographs for fans. He said the Northwoods League is a great way for aspiring ballplayers to hone skills and possibly get noticed by professional scouts.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good local softball coming up Saturday

Caswell Park is the place to be Saturday for what should be an entertaining day of high-school softball.
Section 2AA is the most intriguing as the top seeds have advanced in both the South and North subsections.
In the South, top-seeded Mankato East takes on St. Peter, and second-seeded Maple River meets Waseca. In the North, top-seeded Holy Family Catholic faces Belle Plaine, and No. 2 Le Sueur-Henderson gets Hutchinson. All games are at 1 p.m., with the winners playing again at 5 p.m. and the losers eliminated.
The South is a tough read, considering that East plays a Big Nine Conference schedule, which is certainly more difficult than the Valley or South Central conferences. But this sport is all about pitching, and whichever team gets the best pitching will keep playing.
In Section 2A, top seeds New Ulm Cathedral and Mankato Loyola are in action at 11 a.m. Cathedral meets Sleepy Eye St. Mary's, and Loyola draws Martin County West. The Section 2A winners play again at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

MSU baseball team prepares for national tournament

Check out a feature on Minnesota State outfielder/pitcher Danny Miller in Thursday's print edition.
Miller, a junior, has been a stalwart in the offensive and defensive lineup for the last three seasons, but he's also been the winning pitcher in the two biggest games.
He's only pitched in four games this season but was the winning pitcher when the Mavericks defeated Southwest Minnesota State in the championship game of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament and the final game against St. Cloud State at the Central Region tournament which propelled Minnesota State into this weekend's national quarterfinals at Cary, N.C.
The Mavericks (44-14) take on Southern Indiana at 5 p.m. Sunday in the opening round.
On Friday, the weekly column will focus more on how this team emerged from a good, but not great, season to the fifth national tournament in program history.
The Mavericks needed to sweep a doubleheader against St. Cloud State on the final day of the regular season to clinch the Northern Sun championship. The next weekend, the Mavericks overcame two elimination games to win the conference tournament. At the region tournament, the Mavericks were the unbeaten team in the championship series but lost the opener to St. Cloud State and needed to win the final game to advance.
Baseball success is nothing new to Minnesota State, and a national championship would be the school's second in two years, joining the women's basketball championship in 2009.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Some doings at Minnesota State athletics

As mentioned last week, athletic director Kevin Buisman has been required to come up with a plan to cut $250,000 to $350,000 from the budget for an expected shortfall in the 2011-12 competitive seasons, and it likely involves cutting some programs.
As early as this week, he could announce the criteria he will use to determine which programs stay and which ones go. The criteria could include affiliation with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and the ability to generate revenue.
Of course, gender equity will be the main concern.

The project to put artificial turf on the Blakeslee Stadium surface is off, and instead, the university will spend $350,000 to improve the grass field's crown and drainage. The condition of the field has been questionable the last two seasons, prompting safety concerns by the athletic department.
Busiman said the plan is to launch a major renovation of Blakeslee Stadium sometime in the next five years.

Freshman quarterback Ray Teachout has been booted from the Minnesota State football program after an arrest May 2.
He was cited for underage consumption, disorderly conduct and fifth-degree assault, all misdemeanors, but football coach Todd Hoffner said that Teachout was no longer a member of the Mavericks' football program. A police report stated that Teachout was involved in a scrap with a university security guard that prompted the arrest.
Teachout, a three-sport standout at West who led the Scarlets to a state football championship in 2008, competed for the backup quarterback position during spring practice, and Hoffner was high on Teachout's future, saying that they needed to come up with creative ideas to take advantage of his athleticism.
It seems to be a drastic move to suspended Teachout indefinitely, but nobody at Minnesota State is talking about the details, citing data-privacy rules.
Regardless, it looks a like a sad ending to a promising career.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Buisman prepares for cuts at Minnesota State

Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman talked this week about the future of Mavericks' athletics, and while fans won't notice much change next season, the 2011-12 competitive year may be different.
Minnesota State faced a $350,000 shortfall in the athletic budget last year, and most of that came from staff, though additional revenue streams offset some of the damage.
For the upcoming season, Buisman said that the challenge will be to raise about $90,000 just to maintain status quo due to increased tuition, fees and room and board.
For 2011-12, Busiman said the deficit will be about $350,000, and that likely means that programs will need to be cut. Minnesota State offers 12 programs for women and 11 for men, and next week, it's possible that Buisman will announce the criteria for which programs might be in trouble.
Gender equity is always a concern, and the university will be offering 46 scholarships for men and 46 for women next year..
To read some of his comments, check out Saturday's print edition.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Battles hooks on with Vikings

Former Minnesota State lineman Adrian Battles has signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings.
He's the second Mavericks player to sign a free-agent contract with an NFL team in the last two weeks. Defensive tackle Junior Aumavae signed with Dallas shortly after the NFL Draft ended April 24.
Battles attended the Minnesota Vikings' rookie tryout last weekend and was signed Tuesday after completing a physical and taking care of paperwork. Of the 55 draft picks and free agents that attended the tryout, five have been signed.
Battles started 43 of 46 games as a tackle, but his professional future will be at guard, taking advantage of the athletic ability of the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder.
Battles will be taking part in the Vikings' minicamp and organized team activities over the next month and could end up at training camp later this summer, back on the practice fields with which he's so accustomed.
He's pretty pumped up about this opportunity, and check out Wednesday's print edition for his comments.
Cornerback Kelvin Rodgers and defensive tackle Randy Earl also participated in the Vikings' camp but have not been signed. Rodgers said he has another tryout at Baltimore this week.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Former Mavericks get chance with Vikings

Had an opportunity to take in about an hour of practice Friday, watching former Minnesota State football players Kelvin Rodgers, Randy Earl and Adrian Battles participate in the Minnesota Vikings' rookie tryout camp at Winter Park.
The first thing you notice is that it's tough to tell them apart from the others who were on the field. That can be a good thing, given that the former Mavericks look the part, but it's also a negative, meaning that it's very hard to stand out.
The practice consisted of the Vikings draft picks and some priority free agents, then a whole lot of filler. Given that the Mavericks were not listed on the team's roster speaks to the uphill nature of their task.
Rodgers, who also will participate in the Baltimore Ravens camp next week, probably has the best chance of the three to stick somewhere. His speed is top-flight, and his ability as a kick and punt returner gives him at least one NFL skill.
Earl and Battles, while big boys at Minnesota State, don't seem to stand out much so they're going to need to find a way to catch a coach's eye.
It's tough for any Division II player to catch on with an NFL team, and the three Mavericks surely have a tough road ahead of them. But their chances are better now than they were before they were invited to this tryout camp.