Varsity Sports Now covers baseball. We’ve covered high school football and basketball for two years now. The popularity of our coverage has allowed us to continue into baseball season. This year we’ll be ranking the top teams during the spring season in both North Dakota and South Dakota. Here is our first rankings!
South Dakota Class B
Jason Gault is excited to lead the state champs out to defend their title this spring,
“The coaching staff feels that with off season workouts, and a year of growth with our younger players, VHS should be in the hunt for the region 1b title again.”
Vermillion went 18-3 last season and have All-State powerhouse Collin Bertram (P/OF) back to lead the way. One coach calls Collin the best player in the state regardless of class. Bertram is dominant on the mound and in the batter’s box. Bertram went 8-0 with 73Ks and a 0.79 ERA last season.
This year Vermillion’s pitching and defense should make them a threat to repeat. Jayce Huska and Bertram give Vermillion a good chance to be at the top again.
The Mibank/Wilmot team will look a little different this season but all changes should be positive. They return two senior pitchers and have added another senior who didn’t play last year to the rotation. Their team strength will be their solid starting pitching and strong defense.
Look for Taylor Boerger to lead the way on offense and the pitching staff. Taylor will be trying out for the SDSU Jackrabbits later in the summer. He trhows an 80-85 mph fastball and is developing a change along with his strong slider.
Landon Hammer, Justin Ackerman, Spencer Folk and Sean Zimny give some depth to a potent lineup.
“If we can keep our errors at a minimum our starting pitching will win us games. We need to keep our pitchers healthy with the anticipated colder Spring,” said Manager Curt Schake.
3. St. Thomas More
St. Thomas More has won titles in 2009, 2010, lost in semis in 2011 and lost in finals in 2012. It’s a safe bet that they’ll be in the mix once again this season. Lincoln Fiest leads a solid group of starters on the rotation.
Despite losing the opener to Lincoln and dropping a hard fought game with Vermillion already this season Harrisburg should be a top team come playoff time.
Strengths this season will be solid defense up the middle of the field. Weaknesses will be the loss of several Seniors last season and lack of experience but that will be made up with the returners who made a trip to the state tournament last season.
Dalton Allen and Conner Dunteman carry the heart of the order for the Tigers. Dalton Allen hit .313 with a .564 OBP. Conner Dunteman’s .414 average and 12 RBI’s and 8 steals put him amongst the most feared hitters in the class. Allen is also one of the best pitchers around. He went 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning last year.
5. Bon Homme
Don’t look past this group of strong hitters when it comes to class B. Manager Gary Kortan likes the mix of talent and experience this spring, “Our pitching will be solid as we have 4-5 guys capable of winning games. Team speed will be another plus and we plan on being very aggressive on the bases. We struggled last year at the plate with the change to wood bats but hope to adapt much better in year two.”
The 2011 State B champs were only 7-6 last season but with All-Staters Ross Kortan pitching and Blasé Vanecek catching they become an instant contender. But with any good team they won’t rely on star power.
“We have to play together and do the "little" things it takes to win games. Once we accept that...things will fall into place and their baseball skills will take us where we need to go,” said Kortan.
Ross Kortan will be the x factor for Bon Homme, he throws a fastball and curve in the low 80s and had a 1.13 ERA last year. What might be most impressive is his 38 strikouts versus only 5 walks. He signed to play baseball with Dakota State University. Ross will be paired with Hunter Young (so.)