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Severtson Signs Professional Contract

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ZION, Ill. – Former Augustana pitcher Bret Severtson Wednesday evening signed a professional contract with the Lake County Fielders of the North American League.  Severtson immediately made his professional debut by pitching 3.1 innings on the road against the Yuma Scorpions.

Severtson becomes the first Augustana baseball player under head coach Tim Huber to earn a professional contract and the first for the Vikings since 2007 when Mike Loberg was drafted in the 33rd round by the San Francisco Giants.

The sidearm throwing right-hander's first opponent at the plate was former Major Leaguer Jose Canseco, who also manages the Yuma club.  Severtson, who struck out two batters Wednesday, gave up a home run to the former all-star in his second plate appearance.

"Playing professional baseball has been a goal of mine for a long time, and to be able to accomplish that feels incredible" Severtson said.  "I have had a ton of support along the way, and I couldn't be happier about this opportunity."

Severtson caught the eye of Fielders scouts after efficient outings for the Mesa Miners of the Arizona Summer League.  The ASL is a short-season instructional league affiliated with the NAL.  He finished his stint with the Miners with a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings of work.  He also struck out eight batters in his team-high four appearances.

A native of Flandreau, S.D., Severtson left Augustana as the most successful closer in school history.  He holds the career record for saves with 24, and his 10 saves in 2011 broke his own school record of seven established in both 2009 and 2010. Severtson, who owns a career ERA of 3.83, also made a school-record 71 appearances on the mound.

Severtson, who fanned 69 batters as a Viking, collected All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference honors twice and was an all-region selection as a junior in 2010.

In 2011, Severtson led the NSIC with seven saves in conference games. That mark set a new conference record and broke his previous record of six in 2009.

"This is a great opportunity for Bret and very much deserved," Huber said. "He has worked as hard as anyone the past few years to give himself an opportunity to play professionally. He has the drive and desire to play at the highest level he is capable of and I know he will do whatever is needed to get there."

Severtson began his career at Augustana with a traditional, overhand delivery.  Huber and staff, however, developed him into one of the NSIC's toughest relievers when they switched him to a sidearm pitcher.

Said Huber: "Dropping Bret down to sidearm a few years ago turned out to be a great thing and has made him into the pitcher he is today. I don't think he would have had a chance to earn a paycheck playing baseball if he wouldn't have worked so hard and bought into the change. He really is still developing as a pitcher from down low. I believe he could end up pitching at the professional level for quite some time if he can keep developing his pitches."

The Lake County franchise, based in Zion, Ill., is partially owned by actor Kevin Costner.  The Fielders continue play in Yuma tonight with a doubleheader.
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