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Published On: August 13th, 2023

Written by Dain Solberg

Photo Courtesy of Dennis Benson

The Matchup: The Willmar Stingers (51-16) will open up the Northwoods League playoffs at Joe Faber Field to begin a best of three series on August 13 against the Saint Cloud Rox (43-25)

Addition to Playoff Staff: Willmar will add Minnesota Mud Puppies coach Aidan Wirshing (Gardner Webb University) for the playoffs. Wirshing has had experience coaching at Division I Gardner Webb in North Carolina and will be joining the Davidson University staff in the spring for another collegiate opportunity.

Players To Watch: Kevin Fitzer (California State Northridge) will be the player to watch for Willmar. Fitzer had a go-ahead home run for the Stingers in the series against Eau Claire and has led the team in home runs (15), RBI (62) and hits (78). He currently has a batting average of .332.

Kevin Butler (St. Cloud State University) will be the player in the spotlight for the Rox. Butler posts a .341 batting average and has collected 14 hits and 4 RBI in 13 games. The former Bellarmine product transferred to Division II SCSU before the 2023 Northwoods League season.

Tonight’s Pitchers: Chris Rofe (Mount Marty University) got the call from Stingers pitching coach Josh Teichroew. Rofe (5-0, two saves) will be the game one starter, he posted a regular season ERA of 2.56 striking out 44 hitters and allowing 28 free passes in 14 games pitched.

Piercen McElyea (Tarleton State University) will likely be the game one starter for Saint Cloud. McElyea (6-1) has posted a regular season ERA of 2.83 tallying 56 strike outs and surrendering 25 free passes through 54.0 innings of work.

Regular Season: The Stingers have won 7 out of the 12 total meetings against the Saint Cloud Rox during the 2023 Northwoods League campaign.

Keys To The Series:

  •   Top Of Order (Fitzer, Miyao, Dirksen, Sojka).
  •   Advancing Runners.
  •   Depth Throughout Lineup (Hines, Byrne, Stroh).

First Pitch: Game one of the best of three series will be at 4:05 at Joe Faber Field at the Municipal Athletic Complex.

For more coverage of the Stingers, visit the West Central Tribune online at

The 2023 season is presented by J.D. Kreps Financial Group, empowering investors with powerful financial advice.

The Willmar Stingers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Now in its 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff, over 325 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at and on ESPN+. For more information, visit or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Stingers as your favorite team.