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Published On: May 29th, 2017

WILLMAR, Minn. – The Willmar Stingers take the field Tuesday to begin the 2017 season with a new look to the coaching staff, batting order and ballpark.

On Opening Night, however, some familiar faces will take the mound in front of a sellout crowd at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Of the four returning pitchers on the 2017 roster, three pitched in the 2016 season opener. Jake Rothwell, who was recently named Opening Night’s probable starter by field manager Eric Vasquez, pitched two innings and gave up one earned run as a reliever in the Stingers’ previous season opener.

Rothwell is coming off of his sophomore year at Daytona State with a 9.22 K/9 ratio, amassing 70 strikeouts in 68.1 innings.

Corey Binger (Nebraska-Omaha) and Joe Vranesic (Kent State), who both return in 2017, combined for the other seven innings and gave up zero earned runs in last year’s opener.  

The Stingers have an all-new coaching staff led by first-year field manager Eric Vasquez. Vasquez has garnered coast-to-coast experience at multiple levels of college baseball after leaving his career in education. Vasquez is the fourth manager in the team’s eight-year history after completing his second year as assistant coach at Utah Valley University.

Vasquez is supported by Bo Henning of Sacramento City College and Cameron Jergens of Coker College.  Henning will be the pitching coach for 2017, while Jergens will handle hitters and infielders.

It is the first time the Stingers have played Thunder Bay on Opening Day since May 29, 2013.  That day at Bill Taunton Stadium, current Major League pitcher Steven Brault led the Stingers to a 7-1 victory with a six inning, eight strikeout, scoreless line.

At the plate, Quincy McAfee (Pepperdine), Luke Becker (Kentucky) and Eduardo Estrada (Minnesota) will return to Willmar from the 2016 squad. The three combined for 81 RBI and a .294 average in 2016.

Bill Taunton Stadium includes many new additions such as the EcoWater Beach down the left field line. The EcoWater Beach provides the most unique fan experience in the Northwoods League. The $15, all-inclusive EcoWater Beach ticket package includes a sandwich, chips, and drink of choice.  Come sink your toes in the sand at Minnesota’s only ballpark beach!

Additionally, Bill Taunton Stadium now features renovated suites and the all-new Christianson Home Plate Club, a premium seating area with swivel chairs, custom table tops, premium parking, a wait staff and unlimited refreshments. 

For information on group and season tickets, or more information regarding this release, please contact the Willmar Stingers front office at 320-222-2010 or visit 

The 2017 season of Stingers Baseball is presented by Marcus Construction. “From start to finish we’ll make your job easier and build a facility you will be proud of.”