Becker to play in all-star series

Whether it’s taking cuts in the batting cage on his family’s farm, playing catch in a friend’s backyard or delivering a clutch hit in the Class AA state tournament, Levi Becker simply loves to play the game of baseball.

Now, Fairmont’s senior field general will lace up his spikes one last time as a prep player when he joins forces with his South teammates in the Minnesota High School Baseball All-Star Series on June 21-22 at Chaska Athletic Park in Chaska.

“I’ll make the trip to Chaska on Thursday for a 1 o’clock practice and later that night, we have the banquet at 7 (p.m.) at Hazeltine (National Golf Club),” said Becker.

The hard-hitting Becker and the South All-Stars open the two-day series by squaring off against Metro East at 3 p.m. Friday in a nine-inning clash.

The South elite team then faces Metro West at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a second seven-inning game against the North at 3 p.m. in Chaska.

“I guess when I get there (the Chaska ballpark), I’ll see if I’m in the starting lineup,” Becker said with a smile.

Ironically, Becker’s incredible versatility on the diamond gave Fairmont mentor Todd Sukalski a lot of flexibility when penciling in his starting lineup over the last three high school seasons.

“He played all nine positions for us during his high school career, but we (coaching staff) used him mainly at second base and center field this season,” said Sukalski. “Levi’s one of those rare athletes who’s good wherever I put him.”

In fact, Becker possessed the rare ability to adapt to his ever-changing defensive assignments almost flawlessly, while still maintaining his resolute focus inside the batter’s box.

The three-time all-Section 3AA choice generated a team-leading 31 RBIs on the strength of the No. 2 batting average (.421) in the Cardinals’ potent lineup this spring.

The three-time all-South Central Conference selection and perennial Sentinel All-Area pick also produced second-best team totals in hits (32) – including six doubles, a pair of triples and two home runs – runs scored (29), slugging percentage (.632) and on-base percentage (.489).

As outstanding as the above numbers are, Becker’s strikeout/at-bat ratio for his final prep campaign is nearly unbelievable.

“I was proud of the fact that I struck out only once in 76 at-bats this season. It was against (Blue Earth Area) Brandyn Olsen,” said Becker. “It was a good pitch that he got me on.”

Becker, however, was not limited to swinging lethal lumber and displaying solid leather in the field as the right-hander posted a 3-0 pitching record and miniscule 1.65 ERA in 17 innings of work this season.

While the Cardinals’ ultimate multi-tasker would have rather been playing in his third consecutive Class AA state tournament in St. Cloud earlier this week, Becker exits his career as an integral part of the Fairmont baseball program’s incredible resurgence during Sukalski’s tenure.

The Cardinals compiled a 70-11 overall record for an .864 winning clip during Becker’s varsity career, including a near-perfect 28-2 mark in the conference en route to three championships in a row. Fairmont also claimed a third-place state showing in 2011 before finishing fourth in Class AA a year ago.

“Levi’s a very hard worker and when you put that together with his baseball ability, you have quite a player,” said Sukalski. “No matter what sport he plays, other kids follow him because he’s a leader on and off the playing surface.”

Now, the next step in Becker’s baseball career will be one of the most difficult ones – selecting a college with both the baseball and academic programs that he wants.

“I’ve waited this long, I might as well see what happens after the all-star series now,” said Becker, who plans to major in agricultural business. ” … I guess I could play for NIACC (North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa) for two years and then play at SDSU (South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D.) after that.

“If the coaches tell me that I’m done playing baseball after my first two years, then I’ll probably go to the ‘U’ (University of Minnesota) to finish my degree.”