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Young signs with Southwest State

When sophomore slugger Kyle Young came to play baseball for the Riverland Blue Devils last season he was looking for a challenge from pitchers beyond the high school level.

Now, after torching pitchers for the past two seasons in NJCAA Division III play, Young will make the transition to the next level at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. The four-year school is NCAA Division II and competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

"It's a great feeling to sign with Southwest State and know I'll be going to another level of baseball next season," Young said. "I've gained a lot of confidence playing at Riverland and I'm ready for the challenge of facing the pitchers at the next level."

During his freshman season, Young hit for a .407 average with 57 RBI and 12 home runs. He had a total of 59 hits, including a dozen doubles.

This season, Young is hitting for a .333 average with four homers and 16 RBI. The Blue Devils still have eight divisional games left in the regular season.

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"Hard work is what we learned last year in going to the JUCO World Series and if we play that way again, then we have a chance to get back to Texas," Young said. "With the increased confidence as a hitter, my mind game is so much better and I know what to expect from the pitchers when I step into the batter's box."

Young's powerful bat should fit in well next season at Southwest Minnesota State. Coach Paul Blanchard has scouted Young during his time at the junior college and adding a good hitter to the lineup is always a benefit for the program.

"It was a nice feeling to have coaches call and recruit you for their team," Young said. "I've heard a lot of good things about coach Blanchard and his program, so I'm excited to be playing for them next season. The confidence I've gained in my hitting ability while playing at Riverland will help me be a success at the next level of college ball."

Developing players to go on to a four-year school has been one of the major selling points for Riverland coach Scott Koenigs in getting top-notch recruits. Koenigs allows these guys to get in valuable playing time and hone their skills.

Not only has the coach developed players and gotten them to the next level, but his program at Riverland has enjoyed a successful run in the last few years with back-to-back trips to the JUCO World Series. Young's teammate and fellow sophomore Kyal Williams is also expected to sign a letter-of-intent at a four-year school in the next few weeks.

While the sophomores for the Blue Devils look ahead to next season, they still have some unfinished business this season. Riverland plays a divisional doubleheader on Friday against Rochester Community and Technical College.

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