CLASS C RANKINGS: Race for the top spot tightens

By Nick Gerhardt

The race for the top spot in Class C has tightened, especially after Nisswa suffered its first loss of the season Saturday against Buckman and we saw three new entrants into this edition of the rankings, including a fast-rising Cold Spring Rockies club.

Last week saw the close of some lengthy winning streaks, first Stark ended New Ulm’s 26-game winning streak against Tomahawk East League foes, then Nisswa fell for the first time in 23 games when Victory League rival Buckman handed the Lightning a 4-1 defeat Saturday in Buckman in a rematch of the 2022 state title game. Meanwhile Jordan and Delano keep chugging along and picking up wins to remain undefeated.

Through a topsy-turvy week, Nisswa maintained its hold on the No. 1 ranking but Delano and Jordan closed in. The Athletics jumped two spots to claim the No. 2 ranking while Jordan climbed two spots to sit at No. 3. They made those moves after Watertown dropped down to the No. 4 ranking following a 5-4 Memorial Day loss to Waconia.

There’s a lot of separation after that in the rankings, but Cold Spring’s hot start captured the attention of the pollsters to break into the top 10 at No. 5 after being not ranked in the preseason poll.

The aforementioned Billygoats dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 to make way for the rise of other teams. Then we have a three-team tie for the No. 7 ranking. Bird Island remained in the same spot but got company from Hutchinson and Waconia. After a blistering start, newcomer New Prague cracked the top 10 in the final spot. 

Here’s what our experts thought in this poll.

Aaron Worm — Albert Lea

1. Jordan Brewers —The Brew Crew is off to an 8-0 start, including a win against Bird Island.

2. Nisswa Lightning — Defending champs are 6-1 following a 4-1 loss to Buckman Saturday in a state title rematch.

3. Watertown Red Devils — Devils off to a 7-1 start in the Crow.

4. Delano Athletics — The A’s are off to a 7-0 in the North Star League.

5. New Ulm Brewers —  Brewers hold steady in the No. 5 spot, despite having their 26 league game win streak snapped by Searles, pretty impressive run in the Tomahawk.

6. Waconia Lakers — 6-1 in the Crow

7. Buckman Billygoats — Took down Nisswa in a state championship rematch and have a 4-1 record.

8. Webster Sox — My favorite to win the DRS, remains in the top 10, took down Elko 8-1 Sunday.

9. New Prague Orioles — I know I place a curse on DRS teams when placed in my top 10, but outscoring league opponents 64-12 and off to a 6-0 league start, has to be recognized. 

10. Atwater Chuckers — Love the nickname, 4-0 in league play, 7-1 overall.

Chad Knutson — Heron Lake Lakers

1. Nisswa Lightning — 6-1, beat the three Pierz teams, Sobieski, Foley and Swanville. 

2. Delano Athletics — 7-0, leading the North Star.

3. Jordan Brewers — 8-0 with three wins against Class B teams.

4. Watertown Red Devils — 11-2 playing solid, only losses to Clearwater and Waconia.

5. Hutchinson Huskies — 7-1 good start for Huskies in North Star.

6. New Prague Orioles — 7-0 on top of the DRS, playing extremely well.

7. Luverne Redbirds — 5-0 Birds have scored 71 runs and allowed just 5 runs.

8. Dumont Saints — 6-1 Jordon Roos has been impressive

9. Clearwater River Cats — 10-2, 3-0 in Sauk Valley, Big wins over Sartell Muskies, Watertown Red Devils.

10. Cold Spring Rockies — 6-2 lead the Central Valley South.

Honorable Mention: Buckman Billygoats, New Ulm Brewers, Webster Sox, Bluffton Braves, Waconia Lakers, Sartell Muskies, Mayer Blazers, Fairmont Martins, Bird Island Bullfrogs, Raymond Rockets, New Munich Silverstreaks, Avon Lakers, Stark Longhorns, Hastings Hawks, Watkins Clippers, Wanamingo Jacks, Luxemburg Brewers, Montgomery Mallards, St. Clair Wood Ducks, Waterville Indians.

Tom Elliott — Willmar

1. Nisswa Lightning — So far, so good for the Lightning, who started undefeated in Victory League play with a 6-0 record until losing Saturday to Buckman

2. Delano Athletics — The A’s are off to an 7-0 start in the North Star League.

3. Watertown Red Devils — They’re 11-2 with a non-league loss to Clearwater.

4. Jordan Brewers — Off to an 8-0 start and definitely a top 10 team to watch.

5. Cold Spring Rockies — Cold Spring is 6-1 and undefeated in Central Valley League play, including a 5-2 win over the Watkins Clippers. Their lone loss is a 4-3 in a non-league game with the Cokato Kernels.

6. Raymond Rockets — The Rockets are off to a 4-0 start, including a 12-2 win over Willmar, 18-1 over New London-Spicer and wins over Marshall and Clinton. They have a nice mix of veteran and young talent and will be a force in the Corn Belt League.

7. Mayer Blazers — Mayer is off to a 6-1 start in the Crow River Valley North Division, a half-game back of Watertown and tied with Waconia.

8. St. Stephen Steves — This is the first-place team in the South/West Division of the Victory League. They’re 5-1 and their lone loss is to the Sobieski Skis, who are up a class.

9. Bird Island Bullfrogs — Bird Island is unbeaten in Corn Belt League play. The Bullfrogs’ lone loss so far is 6-4 to the Jordan Brewers.

10. New Munich Silverstreaks — New Munich is off to a 6-0 start in the Stearns County League North Division. The Silverstreaks are the only undefeated team in the 10-team Stearns County League at this point. Included are notable wins over Lake Henry (6-0) and St. Martin (10-8).

Kip Kovar — Howard Lake

1. Delano A’s — Undefeated and atop the standings in the North Star League. Also, have a win over Hamel as well. As dangerous of a lineup you’ll see and getting better pitching and defense as well.

2. Jordan Brewers — A perfect 8-0 on the season and off to a great start. An experienced bunch who knows how to win.

3. Watertown Red Devils — Had their first hiccup of the season in a loss to Waconia. Bounced back in a big way with a win against Mayer to reclaim the top spot in the CRVL North. 

4. Nisswa Lightning — The past champs have had no hangover yet to start 2023. Started undefeated at 6-0 in the Victory League until Saturday.

5. Bird Island — Off to a good start coming off an exciting run in last year’s state tournament. Have a 10-0 win over New Ulm already and played the Jordan Brewers tough.

6. Buckman Billygoats — Always a team to watch and as good as anyone when it matters most.

7. Cold Spring Rockies — A team to keep an eye on. Have a nice win over Watkins already and are right in the thick of things in the Central Valley League.

8. Waconia Lakers — Have responded in a big way following a loss to Mayer early in the season. Picked up a big win over Watertown and are starting to get the bats going.

9. Hutchinson Huskies — Off to a 4-1 start in the North Star League and the offense is as good as always. Have big games coming up against Watertown and Delano this weekend.

10. Buffalo Bulldogs — After a tough couple of seasons, the Bulldogs find themselves near the top of the North Star League standings. A few more weeks and we’ll see if Buffalo is the team that made the run in 2020.

Class C Rankings (As of June 5)(Pts)(Previous)

1. Nisswa Lightning (36)(1)

2. Delano Athletics (35)(4)

3. Jordan Brewers (34)(5)

4. Watertown Red Devils (31)(2)

5. Cold Spring Rockies (11)(NR)

6. Buckman Billygoats (9)(3)

7. Waconia Lakers (8)(7)

7. Hutchinson Huskies (8)(NR)

7. Bird Island Bullfrogs (8)(7)

10. New Prague Orioles (7)(NR)

Others receiving votes: New Ulm Brewers, Webster Sox, Atwater Chuckers, Luverne Redbirds, Dumont Saints, Clearwater River Cats, Raymond Rockets, Mayer Blazers, St. Stephen Steves, New Munich Silverstreaks, Buffalo Bulldogs, Bluffton Braves, Sartell Muskies, Fairmont Martins, Avon Lakers, Stark Longhorns, Hastings Hawks, Watkins Clippers, Wanamingo Jacks, Luxemburg Brewers, Montgomery Mallards, St. Clair Wood Ducks, Waterville Indians.

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