CLASS C RANKINGS: No surprise with new No. 1?

By Nick Gerhardt

For the first time this season, we’ve got a new No. 1-ranked team. Who it is shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The Delano Athletics have put together an impressive season with their lone loss coming against the Class B Shakopee Indians, so it’s only deserving they claim the No. 1 spot, especially after a thrilling 9-8 win over Watertown where they rallied from a six-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth.

Speaking of the Red Devils, they’ve jumped back into the No. 2 spot after sitting at No. 4 in the previous poll. Just behind Watertown comes Jordan at No. 3 and Buckman rose two spots in this poll for the No. 4 spot.

The A’s displaced the Nisswa Lightning, who have dropped to the No. 5 spot following a loss to league rival Buckman in a state title rematch. 

Raymond slots into the top 10 for the first time this season. The Rockets claimed the No. 6 spot after an impressive run through the Corn Belt League. 

Perennial contenders Waconia and Bird Island hold the Nos. 7 and 8 spots in this poll, though the Bullfrogs just claimed the Charlie Larca Tournament title in Jordan. 

Watkins at No. 9 and Luverne at No. 10 round out the rankings, with both cracking the list for the first time this season.

Here’s what our pollsters thought.

Chad Knutson — Heron Lake Lakers

1. Delano Athletics — 18-0 in the North Star and 24-1 overall. Playing extremely well and can beat you multiple ways. Big matchup with Maple Lake, six teams in the North Star have at least 10 wins.

2. Jordan Brewers — 18-2 and are a tough veteran team with lots of young talent.

3. Buckman Billygoats — Goats beat Nisswa 4-1 in state title rematch and 12-1 in maybe the toughest league in the state in the Victory league — they always do well come playoff time.

4. Watertown Red Devils — 24-3 and lead the Crow at 15-1, tough loss to Delano. 

5. Nisswa Lightning — Defending champs lost to Buckman 4-1 in early June at Buckman, but haven’t lost since in the Victory League.

6. Raymond Rockets — 18-3 overall and lead the Corn Belt, hitting .365 as a team and a very balanced team with their pitching staff and veteran leadership. 

7. Luverne Redbirds — 16-1 overall and 14-1 Gopher, they just clinched the Gopher League, outscored opponents 165-28. Lineup stacked with college players and added some key pieces, only loss is to Fairmont 6-1 

8. Bird Island Bullfrogs — They are hot right now 14-3, just won the Charlie Larca tournament in Jordan, beat Jordan in semis and Cold Spring Springers. 

9. Watkins Clippers — Leading the Central Valley North at 11-1 and perennial power. Luxemburg, Cold Spring Rockies and Kimball all very good teams they have beat

10. Clearwater River Cats — 22-3 and can really score 258 runs in 25 games. 

Honorable Mention

Waconia Lakers, Elrosa Saints, Maple Lake Lakers, Sartell Muskies, Bluffton Braves, Waterville Indians, Fairmont Martins, Courtland Cubs, Union Hill Bulldogs, New Ulm Brewers, North Mankato Gators, Atwater Chuckers, Stewartville-Racine Sharks, Jackson Bulls, Luxemburg Brewers, Princeton Panthers, Windom Pirates, Dumont Saints, Fergus Falls Canes, Plato Bluejays, Avon Lakers, New Munich Silverstreaks, Foley Lumberjacks, Faribault Lakers, New Prague Orioles, Isanti Redbirds, Clinton Cards.

Kip Kovar — Howard Lake

1. Delano Athletics — Not much has changed for the A’s. Still perfect in the North Star League and coming off a thrilling win over Watertown in which they scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk it off. The pitching depth is getting better and they still feature one of the best lineups in the state.

2. Raymond Rockets — Off to a great start in the Corn Belt League. They can hit, pitch and play defense. A team to watch every year and this season is no different.

3. Watertown Red Devils — It’s been another impressive season for the Red Devils as they sit atop the CRVL North Standings. With Waconia right behind them, it will be fun to see how Watertown finishes down the stretch as it looks to make another postseason run.

4. Jordan Brewers — These guys might always be in my top 10 and they keep proving me right for doing so. With just two losses on the season, Jordan looks to be another team poised to make a run this season.

5. Nisswa Lightning — The defending state champions continue to produce. They’ve been on a roll since a loss to Buckman and sit atop the league standings. Do they have another postseason run in them? We’ll find out.

6. Waconia Lakers — The Lakers have proven they are still one of the best teams in the CRVL and in the state. Hanging right with Watertown in the CRVL North standings, both teams appear to be on track for a big matchup to close out the regular season later this month.

7. Bird Island Bullfrogs — It was a big weekend for the Bullfrogs taking part in the Charlie Larca Tournament in Jordan. Bird Island picked up wins over Faribault, Jordan and Cold Spring Springers on their way to going 3-0 on the weekend.

8. Watkins Clippers — The Clippers continue to play well in a tough league. Sitting at 11-1, Watkins appears to be another team to keep an eye which seems to be the case every year.

9. Buckman Billygoats — A perennial state title contender every year. The Billygoats are playing well again and are a team to watch.

10. Plato Blue Jays — It’s time to give the Blue Jays some love. They’ve already clinched the CRVL South title and only league losses have come to Waconia and Watertown. The Blue Jays also gave Delano all it could handle in a matchup earlier this season. Plato already secured a top two seed in the Region 7C Tournament and will look to get back to state.

Aaron Worm — Mankato

1.  Delano Athletics — 18-0 in the North Star League, nothing more needs to be said for my new No. 1.

2. Jordan Brewers — Brew Crew drop one spot after falling to a good Bird Island team. 18-2 on the season. Batting .325 as a team with a team ERA of 1.48.  

3. Watertown Red Devils — 15-1 in a tough league.

4.  Waconia Lakers — Speaking of the Crow, 14-2 in the league. Always one of my tournament favorites each year.

5. Buckman Billygoats — You can flip a coin when it comes to the Goats and Nisswa, both dominating the Victory League.

6. Nisswa Lightning — See team No. 5

7. Watkins Clippers —  A team that should never fly under the radar, but wasn’t in our overall top 10 for the last rankings, 11-1 in the Central Valley League.

8. Raymond Rockets — Starting the season 11-0 and have won their last four, currently 16-3 on the season.

9. New Ulm Brewers — Brewers in a tight race in the Tomahawk East, tied with Courtland and Hanska for the top spot, all three teams 11-2 in the league 

10. Waseca Braves — First time in my top 10, leading the 13/60 league with a 11-1 record.

Tom Elliott — Willmar

1. Delano A’s — Delano is 18-0 in the competitive North Star League and 24-1 overall, with the A’s lone loss to the Shakopee Indians, a Class B team. I think Delano is the best team in the state right now.

2. Buckman Billygoats — Buckman is also 11-1 in the Victory North-East and has won seven in a row since a 13-3 loss to St. Martin in Avon. Included is a 4-1 victory over Nisswa.

3. Watertown Red Devils — Watertown is 24-3 and dominating in the Crow River Valley League North Division with a 15-1 record. One of the Red Devils’ losses is 9-8 to Delano.

4. Nisswa Lightning — Nisswa is 11-1 in the Victory League North-East Division and the Lightning haven’t lost since a 4-1 defeat by Buckman on June 3.

5. Raymond Rockets — Raymond leads the Corn Belt League with an 11-1 record. The Rockets lead the league in hitting at .365, well ahead of the second-place Milroy Yankees, who are batting .289. They also have the league’s best earned-run average at 2.046, though Bird Island is close behind at 2.138.

6. Bird Island Bullfrogs — Bird Island’s coming off an impressive showing at the Charlie Larca Tournament in Jordan, beating Faribault, Jordan and the Class B Cold Spring Springers. The Bullfrogs are 8-2 in the Corn Belt League. One of their losses is to Raymond, 9-1 on June 18 when the Bullfrogs made seven errors.

7. Jordan Brewers — Jordan is 18-2 in the River Valley League Class C Division and is coming off a 2-1 win over Waterville after falling 5-3 to Bird Island.

8. Waconia Lakers — These guys are one of the best teams in the state, I believe. They went into the week with a 14-2 record in the CRVL North Division.

9. Watkins Clippers — Watkins is 11-1 and is coming off a recent 9-2 win over the Cold Spring Rockies. The Rockies beat the Clippers 5-2 on May 21. They’re atop a top-heavy Central Valley League that also includes strong teams in Kimball and Luxemburg.

10. Elrosa Saints — Elrosa is tied with New Munich at 9-2 in the Stearns County League North Division. Here’s a fun fact: The Saints currently have seven players on their roster who played college baseball this season, all from Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School. Elrosa beat New Munich 1-0 on July 1. The teams meet in a big game with playoff implications on Friday night under the lights at Gumby Bauer Stadium in Elrosa.

Class C Rankings (As of July 12)(Pts)(Previous)

1. Delano Athletics (40)(2)

2. Watertown Red Devils (31)(4)

3. Jordan Brewers (29)(3)

4. Buckman Billygoats (25)(6)

5. Nisswa Lightning (24)(1)

6. Raymond Rockets (23)(NR)

7. Waconia Lakers (15)(7)

8. Bird Island Bullfrogs (12)(8)

9. Watkins Clippers (11)(NR)

10. Luverne Redbirds (4)(NR)

Others receiving votes: Clearwater River Cats, Plato Blue Jays, New Ulm Brewers, Waseca Braves, Elrosa Saints, Maple Lake Lakers, Sartell Muskies, Bluffton Braves, Waterville Indians, Fairmont Martins, Courtland Cubs, Union Hill Bulldogs, North Mankato Gators, Atwater Chuckers, Stewartville-Racine Sharks, Jackson Bulls, Luxemburg Brewers, Princeton Panthers, Windom Pirates, Dumont Saints, Fergus Falls Hurricanes, Avon Lakers, New Munich Silverstreaks, Foley Lumberjacks, Faribault Lakers, New Prague Orioles, Isanti Redbirds, Clinton Cards.

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