Joe Brown is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Prior to becoming regional editor, he was the sports editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle from 2012-2018. He also worked as the sports editor for the Marshall Independent (2010-2012) and as a sports/news clerk for the St. Cloud Times (2008-2009). He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication.
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For the second time in four days, Red Wing has an idea about how they stack up against Class 3A's best. Hosting the Winger Invitational Tuesday at Mississippi National Golf Links, Red Wing and Edina were on the same course again after playing against one another Saturday at Rosemount. “It's been interesting,” said Red Wing junior Stephanie Herzog. “These don't really matter unless we get to state, but it's nice to see how we stack up against each other and know who's really good, where their weaknesses are, that kind of thing.”
PINE ISLAND – A week ago, Pine Island head coach Craig Anderson said his team came off the field humbled. Taking a 7-1 loss against Cannon Falls, there was plenty the Panthers needed to fix, and one of the key points was coming out with a more aggressive plan of attack. “The other day we thought we were a little tentative, a lot of times watching strike one,” Anderson said. “We said every hitter has got to be going up there and before the pitch, you got to be saying, 'Yes, yes, yes.' I'm not sure we were saying 'Yes' last week.”
Thursday was a gut-check moment for Red Wing baseball. After taking a 6-2 loss to Big Nine Conference foe Winona at the Red Wing Athletic Field, players and coaches agreed the team's energy was lacking. On the field, that resulted in the Wingers getting just two hits over the first six innings before putting together a three-hit, two-run frame in the seventh.
With plenty to replace in 2016, the Red Wing Aces’ season opener on Sunday provided a good deal of promise. Going off for 15 hits in a 5-2 non-league win over Bay City, the offensive surge was a surprise for Red Wing since pitchers usually dominate the early portion of the amateur baseball season. “It was a good game as far as our new guys went. We had our new guys playing and I think they all had multiple hits,” said Aces manager Jimmy Bohmbach. “Typically pitching is ahead of hitting at this point of the year, so it was a surprise to put the ball in play that often.”
ZUMBROTA – Kevin Nelson admits to being a little relieved when Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s softball field new name was unveiled. “I was glad when they unveiled it that it didn’t say ‘the Kevin Nelson Memorial Field’ or something like that,” Nelson said in a dry tone. Prior to the start of Monday’s game against Hiawatha Valley League rival Pine Island, the Cougars’ field was christened Kevin Nelson Field, complete with a sign below the scoreboard commemorating the honor.
ZUMBROTA – Against top-ranked Zumbrota-Mazeppa, any mistake will be magnified. With an All-State pitcher and a lineup that seems to sport power one-through-nine every year, the Cougars are a hard enough out on an equal playing field. Pine Island managed to play five innings of strong softball, but it was the first two innings where errors and misplayed balls haunted the Panthers as Class 2A's top team picked up a 4-1 Hiawatha Valley League home win on Monday.
Not even the power of pancakes were going to keep Red Wing's mind off a victory. Prior to Saturday's top-10 Class 3A matchup with No. 5 Rocori, members of the Wingers baseball team went out for breakfast. But, the team had an appetite for victory, not necessarily breakfast. “We went out to Perkins and all we were thinking about was today's game. Couldn't think about anything else,” said Red Wing starting pitcher Teddy Tauer. “Maybe when the server brought the food out, that's exciting. But this game was huge.”
CANNON FALLS – Patience. That's what Cannon Falls needed on Thursday. Wait for the right pitch. Don't get frustrated and take bad swings. Wait for the right moment to attack. Eventually, that patience would pay off. With one out to go in Thursday's Hiawatha Valley League game at John Burch Park, Aaron Stanek was one out away from throwing a no-hitter for fourth-ranked (Class 2A) Rochester Lourdes. But with an RBI single by Max Bowen and a throwing error that allowed another run to come across, Cannon Falls brought the game to extra innings.
Dave Muelken mulled it over for a month. And earlier this week, the Red Wing girls’ basketball coach decided it was time to step away. Muelken confirmed his departure on Tuesday, ending a five-year run at the helm that ended with a 71-72 record and a pair of state appearances, including the team’s best ever postseason finish.
With bases loaded before recording the first out of the top of the seventh inning, there was concern as to how Red Wing would handle the adversity. Up 5-1 with three outs to go against Cannon Falls, the Bombers had the game-tying run in the batter’s box. The Wingers bent. But they didn’t break. Cannon Falls was unable to tie up the game as Hannah Rodgers and the Red Wing defense secured the 5-3 victory at Red Wing High School.