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Roommates. Teammates. Best friends.

Express aces share special bond after freshman season at Minnesota St.

By Jake Steen:

When most players see their first action in the Northwoods League they typically have some college experience already under their belt.

But after Dalton Roach graduated from Eau Claire Memorial with a stellar pitching career that included twice being named All-Conference, Conference Player of the Year his senior season and an ERA under 1 he got the chance to pitch for the Eau Claire Express before starting his freshman season at Minnesota St.

That’s where he met Mavericks teammate and now Express teammate Brody Rodning.

Rodning was preparing for his freshman season pitching for the Mavericks as well when they were assigned as roommates in the same dorm.

Dalton Roach. Photo by Rachel Lacey Noll

“It was completely random,” said Roach. “We got to know each other real well.”

Both players would end up having remarkable seasons in their first year at Minnesota St. leading the way as effective starters.

Roach would end his freshman season with a 6-1 record, posting a 1.91 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 9 starts and 13 appearances. Rodning had similar numbers going 9-0 with a 2.85 ERA in 7 starts and 14 appearances. He tallied 65 strikeouts, three behind Roach as the two led the team in that category by a wide margin.

“We started out the year both battling for spots then we moved up into the rotation as starters,” said Rodning. “I was the number one guy for awhile and he was two. And then it switched where he was the number one and I was the two.”

Being teammates and roommates gives these two players a special bond that is only beginning to grow as they continue their college careers. It’s something that Express Field Manager Dale Varsho already can see in his short time coaching the two.

“They’re living together so they must be really good friends,” said Varsho. “I know the Roaches took in Brody for the summer too.”

This is Roach’s first full season with the Express. Last season he appeared in two games pitching two total innings. Varsho has been impressed with what he’s seen from him so far.

“Dalton played for us last year,” said Varsho. “He spots up, does well, throws hard enough to get people to swing and miss. He’s a really good pitcher.”

Even though he’s only watched Rodning pitch one game for the Express he can see the similarities in pitching styles between the two young aces.

“Brody is the same concept,” said Varsho. “He’ll hump up when he has to and throw it by people, yet he throws enough off-speed to keep them off balance.”

He knew Roach would be back with the Express this season so it was an easy choice touting his counter part Rodning here for the summer.

“I’ve always had Mankato guys so it was a pretty easy solution for me to keep grabbing good guys from there,” said Varsho. “Coach Matt Magers over there develops pitchers, he loves his pitchers and trusts me with them. It’s pretty simple.”

While the Northwoods League season only lasts a little over two months, Varsho knows team friendships can be they key to a winning season.

“Were hoping with all of them they’ve got some bonding to do and they’ll develop good friendships all the way through the summer,” said Varsho. “Not just those two but the whole entire team.”