Tyler Hanson takes on starting for Willmar Stingers

The pitcher made 14 relief appearances last season and also totaled 27 at-bats.

Tyler Hanson pitches for the Willmar Stingers in a game against the Rochester Honkers at the Bill Taunton Stadium on Friday, July 9. Hanson, who finished his second season for the Gophers last spring, joined the Northwoods League in order to continue playing baseball this summer.

Juliet Farmer

Tyler Hanson pitches for the Willmar Stingers in a game against the Rochester Honkers at the Bill Taunton Stadium on Friday, July 9. Hanson, who finished his second season for the Gophers last spring, joined the Northwoods League in order to continue playing baseball this summer.

Emily Polglaze

Summer can be a season of downtime for some collegiate athletes, but Minnesota pitcher Tyler Hanson is currently working though a role reversal on the mound. Hanson, who served as a reliever for 14 games during his sophomore season, has been starting for the Willmar Stingers in the Northwoods League. âÄúIâÄôve been getting plenty of innings,âÄù Hanson said. âÄúBeing a starter instead of a reliever, I get to mix all of my pitches in.âÄù Hanson went to the Stingers following a challenging sophomore season. One of two of the GophersâÄô two-way players last season, Hanson recorded a 4.82 earned run average in 14 appearances and a .185 batting average in 27 at-bats. Now, head coach John Anderson and the Gophers coaching staff will have Hanson focus on his arm rather than his bat. âÄúWe decided after the season that he wants to focus on being a pitcher,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúWe tried to make a two-way guy out of him, but itâÄôs been difficult. HeâÄôs going to have an opportunity to be one of our top eight guys.âÄù This summer is HansonâÄôs second with the Stingers, and heâÄôs making progress. In his seven starts with the Stingers, Hanson has pitched 43.1 innings with an ERA of 2.28. Hanson has earned three wins and one loss and has 30 strikeouts. Hanson did not start in any games for Minnesota last season, but he did start one midweek game during the 2014 season, throwing 3.1 shutout innings and striking out two. In addition to his new starting role over the summer, Hanson said the differences in training at Minnesota and Willmar have also been beneficial. âÄúHere, youâÄôre playing every single day,âÄù Hanson said. âÄúYouâÄôre going to the park and getting your work in, but you have to use your games as practices as a pitcher.âÄù In those games, Hanson has some elements of his pitching heâÄôs hoping to fine-tune. âÄúMy big pitch IâÄôm working on is my slider,âÄù Hanson said. âÄúGetting command of that and getting that over the plate to use as an out pitch next year.âÄù Hanson also has support in the dugout in the form of teammates Dan Motl and Eddie Estrada. Estrada, an incoming freshman, said having his future teammates in Willmar has been beneficial. âÄúItâÄôs really nice to have veterans around whoâÄôve been through all of this,âÄù Estrada said. âÄúTyler has helped me with the mental side of the game and has told me that itâÄôs just a little part of baseball.âÄù Hanson said he hopes his progress in summer ball will be enough to earn him a starting spot, and Anderson believes he has the capability. âÄúHeâÄôs getting more opportunities to compete and play,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúFor somebody who didnâÄôt log a lot of innings last year, I think itâÄôs important that he bridges that gap.âÄù There could be even more promise for Hanson if he manages a successful junior season. A pro career could be a possibility, according to Anderson. âÄúYou never know,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúIâÄôve seen him perform, so itâÄôll all come down to that. WeâÄôll have to wait and see.âÄù