Tribune Notebook: Ex-Stinger shines in the Bronx

·3 min read

Sep. 9—Another Willmar Stinger has made it to the major leagues.

Louie Varland pitched for the Willmar Stingers in 2017 and '18. A right-hander from Concordia University in St. Paul, he was drafted in the 15th round of the 2019 draft by the Minnesota Twins.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-hander made his major league debut Wednesday as an emergency call-up, tossing 5-1/3 innings against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.

He struck out seven, walked one and allowed three hits. When he left, he led 3-1. A runner he left on base scored, so he gave up two earned runs, leaving him with a 3.38 earned-run average and a positive experience as he headed back to the St. Paul Saints at the end of the doubleheader.

Varland, 24, went to North St. Paul High School. His brother Gus, a Los Angeles Dodgers minor leaguer, got to attend Wednesday's game.

With the Stingers, Louie Varland pitched in 15 games over two season, posting a 4-2 records with 60 strikeouts in 60-2/3 innings.

He moved up quickly in the Twins' organization, starting the Elizabethton Twins in 2019. He didn't play during the pandemic year of 2020 when the minor league schedule was canceled.

In 2021, he pitched for the Fort Myers Might Mussles then was promoted to the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Central League.

He began in the 2022 season in double-A with the Wichita Wind Surge before moving up triple-A with the Saints. He was 8-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 126-1/3 innings, striking out 146 and walking 42.

According to to the Northwoods League, he is the 307th former Northwoods League player to reach the majors.

He's the eighth former Willmar Stinger to do so, joining pitchers Jacob Barnes, Steve Brault, Colin Poche, Nick Mears and Ty Tice, catcher Anthony Bemboom and third baseman/outfielder Hunter Dozier as major leaguers.

Willmar had three athletes named Central Lakes Conference performers of the week this week.

In football, junior defensive back Dylan Staska had three tackles, one tackle of loss and one interception for a 100-yard pick-six in Willmar's win over St. Cloud Apollo.

In boys soccer, Miguel Toruno and Kadar Muhumed were honorees. Toruno, a sophomore, was named the offensive player of the week after scoring the only goal in a pair of 1-0 wins.

Muhumed, a senior, "was the defensive organizing force in two shutout games," his coach, Jeff Winter, said.

Willmar is fourth this week in the state Class AAA volleyball poll. The complete rankings: (1) Marshall ... (2) Kasson-Mantoville ... (3) Stewartville ... (4) Willmar ... (5) Byron ... (6) Alexandria ... (7) Benilde-St. Margaret's ... (8) Holy Angels ... (9) Grand Rapids ... (10) New Prague.

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and MACCRAY remain in the top 10 in the Class A state poll. The full top 10: (1) Mayer Lutheran ... (2) Minneota ... (3) Bethlehem Academy ... (4) Russell-Tyler-Ruthton ... (5) Mabel-Canton ... (6) Kenyon-Wanamingo ... (7) MACCRAY ... (8) Badger-Greenbush-Middle River ... (9) Spring Grove ... (10) Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

Nick Starner aced the No. 6 hole on Sept. 6 at Eagle Creek Golf Club. Starner used a 9-iron on the 156-yard hole.