The Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers will be well represented at Monday’s Northwoods League All-Star Game at Wisconsin Rapids.
Six Lunkers were chosen to represent the Northern Division in the exhibition game.
Lunkers’ head coach Ryan Levendoski is proud of his players that were selected, but also feels that other players on the rosters could have made it, too.
“We had six guys make the All-Star team that were very deserving,” Levendoski said. “We also had a couple of guys that aren’t here anymore like Aaron Conyers that would have made the All Star team. In my mind we have 26 guys who come out ready to play and are all-stars in my mind.”
Pitchers Kye Winter, Joe Willman and Jason Forjet made the team. Position players Wade Wass, Dan Olinger and Steven Brault round out the Lunkers players.
Dan Olinger leads the team with 26 RBIs and had a game-winning hit Friday night in the Lunkers win over St. Cloud.
“It’s a huge honor,” Olinger said. “It’s not really fair because we got a couple of guys in late from the College World Series and didn’t have a chance to make the team. But we have six guys and that speaks volumes for the players and the coaches.”
Jason Forjet has compiled a 2-0 record with a 1.76 ERA in the first half of the season. The chance to play against the best in the league will be a thrill for him.
“When you play against the best of the best and great competition, it makes it fun for players and fun for the fans to come out and see great baseball,” Forjet said. “We have a great bunch of guys here. It’s fun to come out here every day and play hard and hopefully we can pull it out in the second half.”
The All-Star game also gives players from the smaller schools a chance to compete on a larger stage.
“It’s a great platform for these guys,” Levendoski said. “A guy like Kye Winter (Augustana College) who nobody knew about at the start of the season. He’s going to get a chance to springboard himself along with Joe and Jason who are getting a chance to pitch. It’s great for the Dvision II and III guys.”
Winter was signed to a temporary contract at the beginning of the season and was expecting to just fill a role for the early part of the year
“Starting out as a temp I didn’t even think that I would be here after 10 days,” Winter said. “I was just doing my job and luckily I did well enough to get a selection. It should be a fun experience. Not a lot of people get the opportunity so it will be great.”
Steven Brault came to Brainerd expecting to pitch, but a meeting with Levendoski brought about a change of plans and Brault has become a steady outfielder with a good bat in the Lunkers lineup. He had a .346 average with 44 hits going into Monday night’s game.
“Coming out here, I had played both ways for my university (Regis),” Brault said. “I thought I was coming out to pitch and coach Levendoski and I went over what I was going to do in terms of pitching and at bats, and I kind of shattered the mark for at bats with how well I have been doing. I came out here to do both, but am having fun hitting.”
The Lunkers have one of the better pitching staffs in the Northwoods League this year. A number of pitchers have given credit to Wade Wass for the job that he has done behind the plate. Wass is also batting .293 and leads the Lunkers with three home runs.
“It’s big,” Wass said of his selection. “I am just trying to help the team out. I know that they had an All-Star catcher last year in Chad Krist who was a draftee. Those were some pretty big shoes to fill. I just try to do my part to help the team win.”