Champlin’s Aaron Kloeppner leadds despite off-field challenge
By Matthew Davis
Sun Post Newspapers
Since Champlin Park baseball’s varsity season section tournament, Rebels baseball players have donned ‘CK’ on the backs of their batting helmets.
CK stands for Christine Kloeppner, the mother of Champlin Park junior and VFW baseball player Aaron Kloeppner, who had been struck by lightning in the spring. She had been watching Aaron’s younger brother in a youth baseball game at Ham Lake.
“She’s doing better but some pains,” Aaron said. “She’s working through it.”
Aaron certainly could have justified missing a practice/game in light of the incident but Christine wanted Aaron to keep playing baseball. Both the Rebels varsity team and now the VFW squad have benefitted.
“They’ve been behind us all the way,” Aaron said about his team. “A lot of prayers and gift cards and stuff like that coming our way. It was really cool to know everyone was behind us.”
Rebels varsity and VFW coach Cory Davis gave the CKs for the backs of their batting helmets in the section tournament.
“A couple of the section players still have it, and I had a couple left over to give out,” Aaron said.
Aaron helped the Rebels reach the Section 5AAA final before bowing out to eventual repeat state champion Mounds View. In the summer, he helped the VFW Rebels win their division in District 7.
“Whether that incident would have happened or not, these guys rally around Aaron because he’s a leader for these guys,” Davis said. “He’s a vocal leader; he’s a leader by example on the field.”
Kloeppner’s mother has come out to see her son play in VFW games this summer while recovering at home.
“It’s been great to see her at the games,” Davis said. “It’s a miracle in front of our eyes.”
Kloeppner had a .330 average at the plate along with 17 RBI. He also has a 9-0 record pitching with an 0.375 ERA and 54 strikeouts through July 26.
Besides Kloeppner, many young Rebels players emerged this summer in helping the team make a run. VFW players such as Hunter Yerks, Eric Pearson and Sam Goodman gave the Rebels plenty of firepower at the plate. Yerks averaged .325 with 28 RBI, and Pearson had 18 RBI and a .351 average. Goodman posted a .314 average with 15 RBI.
Pitching also proved to be key in VFW’s run baseball riches. Wehlage went 5-1 with a 1.151 ERA and 41 strikeouts. Jordan Sedlezky had a 3-0 mark with a 0.525 ERA, and Alex Bakritges also posted a 3-0 record and 20.2 innings of no earned runs.
VFW District 7 tournament highlights
Champlin swept Blaine and then routed Elk River 10-0 and Maple Grove 6-0 during July 21-26. District 7 championship games took place on Monday after press deadline.
Against Maple Grove, Yerks went 2-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Wehlage earned the win in five innings and allowed two hits.
In the rout over Elk River, Brandon Oxley hit 2-3 and drove in a pair of runs in addition to scoring twice. Kloeppenr threw four scoreless innings for the one-hit win.
Contact Matthew Davis at [email protected]