Commentary: Victory League adds Steam

For the first time in a few years, the Victory League will have five teams in each of its four divisions with the addition of the Aitkin Steam to the North Division this spring.

For the first time in a few years, the Victory League will have five teams in each of its four divisions with the addition of the Aitkin Steam to the North Division this spring.

Aitkin is scheduled to open the season April 24, along with the rest of the North and East division teams, with a home game against the Nisswa Lightning. Freeport plays the official VL opener at 8 p.m. April 23 against St. Stephen.

In other VL news, 2014 Class C state tournament most valuable player Tyler Jendro of Sobieski is recovering from injuries suffered in a car accident late last year. His status for this season is undetermined.

In the 2014 state tournament, Jendro pitched a tournament-record 41.2 innings, won a tournament-record six games while striking out 44 and allowed only one run for a 0.21 ERA.

Tautges head coach


• Brainerd High School graduate Joe Tautges is in his second season as the head baseball coach at Waldorf University (Forest City, Iowa) which was 2-1 in the North Star Athletic Association, 6-15 overall, entering the second game of a doubleheader against Valley City State Monday.

Prior to being named head coach, Tautges served three seasons as a Waldorf assistant.

He graduated from BHS in 2002. After high school, Tautges played baseball at Waldorf and at the University of Evansville and was an assistant under former Waldorf head coach Chad Gassman in 2007.

While playing for Waldorf, Tautges was an all-conference selection in 2004 and led the NSAA in doubles. He posted the team's top batting average and led the team in home runs, doubles and RBIs.

He played in the Northwoods League for the Brainerd Blue Thunder in 2005, finishing third on the team in hitting.

In 2007, Tautges coached the Brainerd Legion baseball team to the district tournament.

Waldorf was 13-30 in Tautges' first season in 2014-15.



• Senior Anna Gessell of Brainerd finished eighth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:17.89 as the University of North Dakota women's track and field team competed in the Shamrock Invitational March 18 at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

• Brainerd's Nikki Anderson was the winning pitcher as the 22nd-ranked Minnesota Gopher softball team beat Purdue 4-3 Sunday to complete a weekend sweep of the Boilermakers. Anderson went five innings striking out four and gave up only one earned run as she improved her record to 4-2. Minnesota hits the road for the eighth straight weekend playing Northwestern in a 3-game series beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, April 1.

• Brainerd's Sara Wennerstrand went 2-for-3 with three RBIs as the College of St. Benedict wrapped up its spring break trip with a 9-1, 6-inning win over Thomas College (Maine) Sunday at Clermont, Fla. She's hitting .431 (second on the team) and leads the Blazers in doubles (8), home runs (3) and RBIs (39). The Blazers are scheduled to start MIAC play Saturday, April 2, with a home doubleheader against Concordia.

• Joey Hanowski, senior from Little Falls, is hitting .341 (third on the team) for the Bemidji State University Beavers. Ben Boser, junior from Pierz, is batting .176 and has pitched 5.1 innings with a 6.75 ERA. Collin Eckman, junior from Little Falls, is batting .167. BSU is 0-4 in the NSIC, 3-17 overall, before playing four games at Minnesota State Mankato this weekend.

• The Brainerd Bees are scheduled to open their Class B Lakewood League season June 11 with a home game against Beaudreau's Saints of St. Cloud.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at .

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