Amateur baseball: Ligers kickoff second season hoping to improve off of inaugural first year
Some new faces look to fill in what was lost as Detroit Lakes gears up for a big second season that will be filled with fun for everyone in the community.
DETROIT LAKES – Baseball is America’s pastime, and there is nothing better to do in the summer than munch on a ballpark dog and watch your favorite team on the diamond. The Detroit Lakes Ligers are primed and ready to get their second season underway.
The Ligers finished their inaugural season third in the Red River Amateur Baseball League last year and were bounced out of the Region 10C tournament after losses to Marble and Roseau. The 2023 season has a different feel to it and manager/player Brandon Johnson can’t wait to get the bats swinging.
“We have a lot of new faces on the club and a good amount of the core we had last year returning,” he said. “We have some younger guys that are going to give us a little bit more depth that we can use down the stretch.”
Designated hitter Tristan Wimmer is excited to get back out on the field and see what the Ligers can do in year two.
“It is looking pretty good,” he said. “We are looking to go out there and have a lot of fun under the sun this year. We are looking to put some wins under our record and keep on the tradition of having baseball in this town.”
Blaine Henderson is coming off a rookie-of-the-year season. His skill set makes him a No. 1 option anywhere on the field and Johnson is expecting another big season out of him. Wimmer is another guy with a great chance to lead the team this year. He had a full off-season routine that will hopefully pay off with balls in play.
Zach Oistad, or “Big Stinky” to the Ligers’ players, is the first baseman and the team’s “funny guy.” He believes that the hitting is the most important aspect of the team’s success this year.
“We will be successful if the pitcher continues to pitch well like they did last year,” he said. “We need to get better at hitting the ball which was something we struggled with last year. We started to do both things well late last year, so hopefully that late-season play carries into this year.”
Oistad thinks that repeating a top-three finish isn’t crazy for this team but that all depends on how well the team meshes together.
“I can see us competing for that two seed,” he said. “I would like to say one but Ada and Dilworth have been around a lot longer so they have that chemistry that we don’t have as a second-year team. I would say two is the goal for us and three is acceptable.”
Every league game is just as important as the next but the home games will be the ones not to miss.
“We have a home tournament we are hosting during the Water Carnival,” player and assistant manager Tom Truedson said. “They are all going to be fun and exciting, we have sponsors for all of our games. The atmosphere here at Washington Park is going to be unmatched. I think any home game is going to be awesome.”
The home tournament will be held July 7-9. For more information about the Lgiers and their season, visit their Facebook or Twitter for everything Detroit Lakes Ligers.
Johnson believes the Ligers’ importance to the community transcends baseball.
“What this team means to Detroit Lakes is: It gives us an opportunity to bring people together at a beautiful venue like Washington Park on a beautiful summer evening,” he said. “There is no admission. We’ll bring in a lot of local vendors with the food truck alley and Bucks Mill Brewery. We get a chance to fulfill our mission to celebrate and engage with our community and offer something for all of us to come together to have a sense of pride and buy-in too.”
Truedson is happy to be a part of the team that brought a Detroit Lakes pastime back to the people.
“It is that extra layer of fun, he said. “Amateur baseball in Minnesota has always been a big thing. There were a couple of years where we didn’t have a club. With the sponsorships, we give people and small businesses an opportunity to get their names out. It is exciting and fun. It is also an opportunity to come down to the ballpark and have fun and enjoy the summer.”
“I love it,” Wimmer said about being a Liger. “It is always fun to come out and play baseball after college and all that. It is super fun with a great atmosphere. We have a lot of great guys who love the game of baseball and love being out here. There is nothing better than being at Washington Park on a Sunday night in the summer.”
Detroit Lakes opened the season on the road against the Dilworth Raildogs on Wednesday, May 24. The Ligers were held scoreless in a 10-0 loss. Detroit Lakes only mustered up two hits against the Raildogs’ Andy Pugliano who had a strong outing. Pugliano punched out 11 batters and walked one in six innings of play.
Casey Ness and Bradley Swiers were the only Ligers to record a hit. Johnson started on the mound and only lasted one-third of an inning after giving up five runs, five walks and one hit. Cooper Hermanson came in for relief and pitched the rest of the way. He allowed five hits, three runs and punched out eight in six and two-thirds innings pitched.
Detroit Lakes looks to bounce back in its home opener on Saturday, May 27, against the Vergas Loons. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.