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Pair of Gophers First to Sign in 2007

(Mankato,MN)–The Mankato MoonDogs Baseball Club, a member of the Northwoods League, is proud to announce the return of two position players from the 2006 team. Sophomore third-baseman Nate Hanson and junior catcher Jeff DeSmidt, both from the University of Minnesota, have signed to play another season with the MoonDogs.

Hanson, a 6’0” 190 lb. sophomore, took over the starting third-base position early in his freshman campaign in 2006 with the Golden Gophers and has continued to showcase his great hitting skills. Last summer, Hanson ranked in the top three in seven different offensive categories for the MoonDogs. That success has propelled him to lead the Golden Gophers in home-runs (2) and RBI (7) through the first seven games of the 2007 season.

Over the weekend (March 2-4), he played a key role in a 10-5 victory over fifth ranked (Baseball America) Arkansas Razorbacks in the Dairy Queen Classic. In the second game of a double-header, he had an RBI double that gave the team a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth. He finished the game going 3-for-5 with two runs, a double and two RBI.

"Hanson is a very heady, smart, and fundamentally sound player that you never have to worry about. With the glove, he is very sound defensively and will provide steady play at the third-base position. Offensively, he has tremendous hitting skills and will be a force in the MoonDogs line-up this summer,” MoonDogs head coach Jason Nell said.

DeSmidt, a 5’11” 205 lb. junior, will look to duplicate an incredible ending to the 2006 MoonDogs season. Last summer, he added a spark to the MoonDogs offense and made an impressive statement in his short time with the club. In five games he tallied a .526 batting average, with four runs, and six RBI. The great end to the 2006 summer has also landed DeSmidt a chance to be the starting catcher for the Golden Gophers in 2007.

"Jeff is a hard-nosed, disciplined player that every coach loves to have on their team. He is a very gritty player that always has a dirty jersey, who throws out runners, never has a bad at-bat, and blocks balls very well behind home-plate. I was very impressed with his overall game in the short time he was in Mankato and that’s why we asked him back,” Nell said.

"Both players are Minnesota kids that come from a great program at the University of Minnesota,” Nell said. "We are very excited to have both of them back for a second season in Mankato.”

The MoonDogs Home Opener is set for June 1, 2007 against the defending Northwoods League champions, Rochester Honkers. Mankato will also be the host of the 13th annual Northwoods League All-Star Game on July 11, 2007. To be part of all the MoonDogs action this summer, season tickets are on sale now as well as group and hospitality tickets. For more information go to www.mankatomoondogs.com or call the MoonDogs Ticket Office at 507-625-7047.