Wildcats return to state tournament
The Winsted Wildcats continued their winning ways in 2014, advancing to the Class C State Tournament, and finishing in the final eight of state.
It was the ninth time in the past 14 years, in which the Wildcats played in the state tournament.
During the regular season in 2014, Winsted won the Crow River Valley League North Division championship with an 18-2 record, beating Waconia on the final day of the regular season to claim the title. Overall, the Wildcats finished the season with a 24-7 record.
Winsted earned a bye into the Region 7C tournament, which took place in Brownton.
At regions, the Wildcats picked up wins over Young America and Brownton and ended up finishing fourth, which was just good enough to advance to state.
At state, the Wildcats won its opening three games to reach the state quarterfinals. Those wins came against Pelican Rapids (2-0), St. Augusta (1-0), and Fort Ripley (6-2).
However, Winsted’s season came to an end two wins shy of the Class C state title game. The Wildcats fell to New Ulm (13-1) in the state quarterfinals.
For his play in the state tournament, Tony Kley was named to the all-state tournament team.
The Wildcats were led in 2013 by Kley, who was named the league’s CRVL pitcher of the year. Over the course of the CRVL season, Kley was outstanding, finishing with a 6-1 record and an 0.30 ERA in just over 59 innings pitched. He also led the league with 86 strikeouts.
Winsted was managed by Aaron Schultz, who has either managed or co-managed since 2006.
While Winsted has enjoyed a multitude of success this past decade with eight state tournament appearances, they have been unable to win a state championship.
That is something a team of the past has done. Back in 1948, the Wildcats were state champions, and followed that title season with state appearances in 1949 and 1950.
Amateur baseball in Winsted traces its beginnings back to 1935. Then, Winsted was a member of the Dairy Belt League, which also included Lester Prairie, Lake Marion, Hamburg, and Plato.
According to past player and longtime Winsted manager Francis Kappel, a long time ago, in 1947, a contest took place to select a name for the Winsted baseball club. The winning name was “Warriors.”
In those days, Winsted also had a second “class B” team, known as Specs’ Wildcats. That team was organized and run by Jerome “Specs” Campbell.
For a few years, in the early 1950s, Winsted did not have an organized ball club, due to the fact so many men were in the military. At about that same time, Specs’ team folded. When organized ball came back to Winsted in the mid 1950s, the Warriors’ name was changed to the Wildcats.
At that time, Winsted was in the Wright Star League. In 1972, Winsted joined the Crow River Valley League.
Winsted plays their home games at Denis M. Campbell Field in Winsted, with the 2011 season opening up in early May.
Over the years, Winsted has had three players, Francis Kappel, Ken Norman, and Denis M. Campbell (the Winsted baseball field’s namesake) inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.
For more information on the Winsted Wildcats, go to its website at www.herald-journal.com/sports/baseball/crvl/winsted/wildcats.html.