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Published On: September 21st, 2023

Willmar, MN– The Willmar Stingers Baseball Club of the Northwoods League, announce today, that Freddy Smith will return as manager for his third season in Willmar.  

The Willmar Stingers welcome in this off-season holding many accolades from the 2023 Northwoods League campaign. They had the Manager of the Year, five NWL All-Stars and four players selected as post-season All-Stars. The combination of these players led to another record-breaking season under Smith.

“Willmar has become a second home to me. It is tough to rival the experience players and coaches get spending a summer with the Stingers. The fans, front office, and community continue to make Willmar the best place to play in the Northwoods League” – Freddy Smith.

Manager of the Year Freddy Smith led the Stingers to set consecutive single season run records (525 in 2022 & 574 in 2023).  Unfortunately, like the 2022 season, the Stingers fell short during the 2023 NWL playoffs.

The focus this off-season is to get the Stingers over the hump and play for the NWL Championship. The first step is bringing back the reigning Manager of The Year Freddy Smith. 

Coaching Record 

2023: Willmar Stingers, 51-16 

2022: Willmar Stingers, 48-20

2022: University of Hawaii, 28-24

2021: University of Hawaii, 24-26

2021: Waterloo Bucks, 42-25

2020: Waterloo Bucks, 28-13

Coach Smith has found extreme success since starting his tenure at Bill Taunton Stadium.  In his most recent season, he led the Stingers to a 51-16 (.761) record and the number one overall seed. This was on the heels of a successful 2022 campaign, where he brought Willmar to a 48-20 (.706) record and the second seed. Manager Smith’s overall stats quarterbacking the Stingers is 99-36 (.733) in the regular season. Over 100 career wins including playoffs. Manager Smith has the highest winning percentage in the NWL over the last two seasons. 

Northwoods League Awards & Achievements

2023: Willmar Stingers – NWL Manager of The Year | #1 Overall Seed | Single Season Runs Record | Single Season Stolen Base Record | Franchise Wins Record | 1st & 2nd half Great Plains West Regular Season Winners | 

2022: Willmar Stingers – | Single Season Runs Record | #2 Overall Seed | Great Plains West Champions | 2nd Half Regular Season Champions |

2021: Waterloo Bucks – | Great Plains Playoff Appearance | Great Plains East Regular Season Champions |

2020: Waterloo Bucks – | 2020 Minnesota & Iowa Division Champion | 

Freddy Smith has been a student of the game. Smith was the infield/hitting coach for the Waterloo Bucks and helped the team to a 2020 Minnesota/Iowa Pod Championship and a Great Plains Division playoff appearance in 2021. He spent two seasons as a graduate manager with the University of Hawaii under head coach Rich Hill. Most recently, he has accepted a full-time coaching role for Georgia State. 

“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical” (Yogi Berra) is the mindset Smith has taken in his career. His extensive coaching experience with multiple organizations has crafted Smith into the 2023 Northwoods League Manager of the year. “His mindset and proven success made it a very easy decision to ask him back” – Willmar Stingers Ownership. 

The off-season is a time for reflection. Though the Stingers and Bench Boss Smith have plenty of highpoints to rest on from 2023, the focus is next season. The roster will continue to take shape throughout the winter. One thing is for certain, that Smith will be managing that roster once again and eyeing an even more exciting 2024. 

Welcome back to the Beehive our reigning Manager of The Year Freddy Smith! 

For more coverage of the Stingers, visit the West Central Tribune online at This 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 31th 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.