SOUTH DAKOTA CLASS A BASEBALL
1. Sioux Falls Roosevelt
The Riders return a great deal of varsity experience and pitching and they have a couple of the best hitters in the state. Mix that together and it’s a formula for a preseason #1 ranking. “We lost only two seniors from last season, so we definitely have a veteran team this year with six seniors and eleven juniors. Our success will start with our pitching,” said Head Coach Joel Sage. Look for Gus Radel to mash in the middle of the lineup again. He hit .400 last year and broke the Roosevelt single season record for highest batting average during the wood bat era. He’s flanked by NDSU catching commit Jack Simonsen, Carter Ades and Isaac Nelsen in a dangerous lineup. Justin Aldrich heads a very good rotation of pitchers.
The back to back state champs are focused on defending their title with a crafty and solid pitching staff. Jamison Meyer, Chris Lerdal and Jacob Devine all saw experience on the mound last year but will take center stage as seniors this season. Brandin Heesch, Cody Niklason and played roles as young varsity players last year and could be the focal point of the lineup this season. Head Coach Ryan Bauer is trying to assimilate his hockey and basketball athletes who all played deep into the postseason and get them to change their focus to baseball. “Pitching and Defense will be our keys and our strengths. I think we have had some of the best of both in the state the last several years and if we want to get back to state again that will need to be our focus,” said Ryan Bauer.
The Kernels may have the most experienced contending team in the state. Spencer Neugebauer, Jed Schmit and Carson Max give the Kernels one of the top hitting teams around. They’ll look to Jed Schmidt and Briggs Havlik to soak up a lot of innings on the mound.
4. Sioux Falls Lincoln
Last season the Patriots put up one of the best regular seasons ever. Their only losses came to Brookings twice. The headliners from last season are gone but don’t forget this team has six players with starting experience back plus they feature some very talented sophomores making their way to the varsity team.
“The boys that we have in my opinion are young, but also bring some of that postseason experience from the past as well. We obviously cannot replace the players we had last year, but we have a good combination of experience and youth that will make us a very tough and competitive team each game,” said Head Coach Jordon Johnson.
Look for Cayden Veland to pace the pitching staff. He was a key pitcher last year but may be the ace this season. Alex Glanzer, Stan Larson and Cory Fichter bolster a lineup that will dearly miss Griffin Lockwood-Powell and Nolan Burchill. The Pats are looking for a few players to step up in the absence of their key offensive powers. Although this team has won their region three straight years and made the state tournament as well, they will be more of an underdog this year without a lot of star power. But by the end of the year don’t be surprised to see Lincoln in contention again.
Pierre has made a run in the playoffs the past couple of years and have become a perennial favorite in Region 3 in their short time as a varsity baseball team. This season they have enough talent back to contend again. Spencer Sarringar, Joe King, Brad Dean, Conner Gerber give the team a lot of veteran players who can really create runs. King looks to be the ace on the mound. He had a 1.27 ERA last year with 23 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched.
Brandon Valley – Two aces in Mitch Hoover and Payton Livingston. Finding enough offense to win games will be the challenge for the Lynx.
SF O’Gorman – Louis Peterson comes back to stabilize the mound but not a lot of returning experience other than that. They do have Brandon Ching, Quentin Evers, Aaron Nesbitt and some promising young talent who could make a run.
SF Washington – The Warriors feature the top pitcher in the state with Alex Bertram. Matt Hedeen, Hayden Fiala and the offense will try to give them a boost into a contender.
Watertown – Watertown has all but three players back including future Augustana pitcher, Alex Gauer. Head Coach Matt Paulson has his team in a tough region but could contend with Brookings this year.
Aberdeen – Alex Heyd and Will Shaefbauer give Aberdeen an experienced one-two punch on the mound.
Yankton – Return five starters from a team that won their region last year. Strength is pitching with Mason Townsend, Jordan Kathol and Hunter Cameron taking the mound.
SOUTH DAKOTA CLASS B BASEBALL
1. Dakota Valley
A loaded team of pitching and hitting return for the Panthers this spring. Luke Johnson, Austin Carter, Kyle Windeshausen and Luke Schmitt are just a few of the top hitters in the area. Plus this team loves to run the bases and their pitching is outstanding led by Tanner Bykerk, Luke Schmitt, and Austin Carter who gave up a combined 9 earned runs all of last season.
The defending state B champions return seven starters this year including Drew DeMers, Kelly O’Bryan and Holden Thieman. They’ll need to find some run production in the meat of the order but look strong across the board.
3. St. Thomas More
This team is always a contender. This year Tate Maher, Ty Neugebauer, Steven Carriero will lead a strong pitching staff with a lot of power and speed on offense.
4. Bon Homme
The Cavs have been good recently, but this year with eight returning starters look to take that next step to become title contenders. Their team ERA was 1.93 last year with outstanding control, led by SDSU recruit Chase Kortan. Kortan hit .400 last season with Bryce Scieszinski and Cole Uecker both major threats in the lineup as well. “We need to stay healthy and our offense has to get better,” said Coach Gary Kortan.
5. West Central
Other Contenders -
SF Christian – This team boasts one of the top pitching aces in the state with D1 lefty, Spencer Koelewyn
Madison - Riley Janke, Mason Leighton and a great group of athletes give Madison a chance to compete against anyone.
Dell Rapids/St. Mary – Dells has placed at state the last two seasons and have a lot of talent back this year. However filling the void left by Brett Mogen will be job number one. Look for Trevor Pulscher, Eddit Price and Josh Roeman to take the mound with Roeman, Nate McKee, Carter Gullickson and Matt Gillogly leading the way at the plate.
Lennox - Lennox will be young but talented. Lennox returns their top two pitchers Breadon Wallenstein (Sr.) and Brock Anderson (Soph.). Their lineup boasts Brock Stein and Zach Leisinger returning to carry the offense.
Vermillion – Carter Kratz is among the most talented players in the state. Pitching should be a strength for the Tanagers.
Sioux Valley – This could be a surprise team this year with a leader like Zack Puetz who hit .489 last season. They went 9-6 last year and get a boost with some pitchers like Trevor Olson, Nick Strasburg and Cole Gross who join the team this year to pitch.
Elk Point-Jefferson – Finished 2-10 last year but have a solid group with Collin Elkins, Tim Mingo, Preston Fejfar, Tyler Leif this year.
Hanson County – Cole Gassman leads a group of three talented pitchers. Gassman, Colton Plagman, Trent Kingsbury and Cade Schmitt will get the offense into gear.
Wolsey-Wessington – Just finished their inaugural season and are gaining steam. Bennett White and Darren Tschetter are back in the middle of the lineup.
Turner-Hutchinson – They have just one senior, Preston Gall, on this young but talented team.
Parkston – A very junior and senior heavy team for Coach Jeff Harris give this them a chance to compete. Alex Scott and Dawson Semmler headline a nice group of potential run producers.