Eden Valley-Watkins High School senior Hayden Willner will join the select few chosen to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Series, June 20-22, at Chaska Athletic Park. The All-Star Series, since its 1975 inception, recognizes the best Minnesota graduating seniors from the sport of baseball. Twenty baseball players are chosen to represent their area of the state in a “round robin” tournament, and Willner joins the North squad. The City of Chaska and its gorgeous Athletic Park are the host and venue for all of the festivities, which include a banquet for selected players, coaches, and families, on Thursday evening, and award ceremonies on the field at 5 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The complete schedule is available at the website: www.mshsbca.org/page/show/823345-2013-schedule-of-events.
The 2013 Tournament is presented by Play Ball! Minnesota, a Minnesota Twins Community Fund and youth organizations partnership, designed to promote and advance the games of youth baseball and softball around the state.
“It’s a great honor, and it makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something with high school baseball. I mean it’s a huge honor to be one of the 80 kids in the whole state to be selected. I can’t wait to get out there and play with Minnesota’s best players,” Hayden Willner said. Though currently his higher education pursuit is unresolved, Willner plans to take some time and consider his options. “I’ve got a few offers right now. But I’m undecided right now on where I want to go. I’m looking at North Dakota State University, St. Cloud State University, University of Minnesota-Mankato, and the University of Mary in Bismarck. Those are my choice right now.”
Despite his given talents and abilities for baseball, Willner has a great attitude and keeps things in perspective. Academically, Hayden has maintained a
3.5 G.P.A., and consistently achieved either the A or B honor roll every quarter. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family, and also my pitching coach of 8 years, Brian Tagney. He has shaped me into the player I am today. Without him I don’t know where I’d be.” Willner’s dream is to play college baseball and climb the ladder to the professional ranks.
Hayden’s high school coach Mike Tomsche is well aware of Willner’s talents. “Hayden’s had a very good career at EV-W. This year was a tough one for him simply because we couldn’t score any runs for him. His final record was 1-4 but could have been 5-0 just as easily.”
Willner’s strike-out-to-walk ratio was outstanding; 71 Ks to 29 BB. His ERA was 1.47, and he has been clocked at 86 mph. He throws a slider and a curve ball
to complement his fast ball. At the plate, Hayden contributed with a .417 batting average, including 4 doubles and a home run.
“He has very good baseball savvy and works extremely hard at the game. In Legion ball he pitched and won the state title and regional championship games, so he has demonstrated the ability to pitch in and win big games. Hayden also was chosen to play for the SWAT travel team that played in Florida, Arizona, and Missouri against very good competition,” said Tomsche.
Whatever lies ahead on the road to success for Willner is of course, unknown, but it is clearly obvious that he is on the right avenue. “Hayden is very coachable and possesses a great work ethic. He puts a lot of time into the game during the off season. He has many admirable, leadership qualities and is not only a vocal leader, but leads by example as well. He is a player the young athletes really look up to and hopefully will emulate in the future,” coach Tomsche said.
Senior EV-W pitcher Hayden Willner was selected to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Series later this month. Staff photo by Marguerite Laabs.