Waletich, Nawrocki power MSU to No. 3 spot

FAIRMONT – Max Waletich’s potent bat and Taylor Nawrocki’s strong pitching arm have helped propel the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks baseball team to the No. 3 spot in the National College Baseball Writers Association’s national poll.

Waletich, a former Fairmont High School athletic standout, was hitting the baseball at a team-leading .351 clip on the heels of the Mavericks’ four-game sweep over the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs earlier this week.

The 6-foot-3 junior right fielder also tops MSU with seven doubles, including a pivotal two-run two-bagger during an 8-7 Game 2 victory over UMD on Monday.

Waletich also has produced 13 RBIs, a .473 slugging average and a .435 on-base clip in helping guide the Mavericks to a 19-4 overall record and 7-1 mark in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings.

Nawrocki, a former Granada-Huntley-East Chain High School phenom, has compiled an impressive 4-0 record and 3.13 ERA this spring.

The 6-3 senior right-hander has recorded 18 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched, and has held opposing batters to an .188 average.

The hard-throwing Nawrocki allowed three earned runs on five hits, struck out five and issued one walk in five innings on the mound to pace MSU’s 10-4 victory over Southwest Minnesota State University on March 23.

Nawrocki, Waletich and the Mavericks are scheduled to face Augustana in a pair of doubleheaders at 3 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D., weather permitting.

Lethal lumber.

Southwest Minnesota State University right fielder Jon Ellis currently holds the fourth highest batting average – .327 – in the Mustangs’ lineup this spring.

Ellis, a former Fairmont High School athletic standout, has generated three doubles, one home run and 13 RBIs so far this season.

The 5-10 senior outfielder also has produced a .436 slugging percentage and a .400 on-base average through 20 games in 2014.

Ellis and SMSU (10-10) had their doubleheader with St. Cloud State University on Wednesday cancelled due to weather. The Mustangs are scheduled to face the University of Minnesota Duluth at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Picking up the pace.

Bradley University redshirt freshman runner Lauren Friese crossed the finish line in the women’s 3,000-meter race in 10:28.03 at the Vanderbilt Black & Gold Invitational on March 29 in Nashville, Tenn.

Friese, a former Fairmont High School standout runner, placed 21st overall and fifth on the Braves’ women’s lineup.

Friese and the Bradley University track and field team are scheduled to compete at the Eastern Illinois University’s Big Blue Invitational at 6 p.m. Friday in Charleston, Ill.