The spring high school baseball season is upon us. Here’s a preview of the 2019 season in Class A and Class B. Look for weekly updates on our social media channels throughout the season and coverage of the state tournament in late May, right here on MidcoSN.
1. Brandon Valley
2018 Record: 21-10; State Champs
Key Players Returning: Connor Knecht, Brad Skorczewski, Thomas Scholten, Joe Kolbeck, Dayne Peyton Dylan Kirkeby, Braden Wills, Cole Hupke
Season Outlook: The Brandon Valley Lynx are definitely stocked and ready for another title run with so many pieces returning from their 2018 championship. According to their coach Jeremy Van Heel, they need to focus on getting solid plate appearances.
“We need to focus on being competitive at the plate and working our at bats," Coach Van Heel said. "We can't win games if we are not putting the ball in play and competing at the plate. Our pitching and defense should be solid; we just need our offense to do the same.”
Connor Knecht will follow in a long line of power hitters from Brandon Valley. He will set the pace at the plate with Dylan Kirkeby – who is committed to pitch at Northwestern – leading the staff. If Brandon Valley can find enough new players to fill in the varsity spots, they should have their sights set on another top-notch season.
2. Sioux Falls Lincoln
2018 Record: 11-9
Key Players Returning: Elliott Hackett, Sam Siegel, Nick Kemper, Ayden Sand, Max Burchill, Tada Naoe, Preston Riddle, Nate Brecht, Zach Allender, Daulton Vanderloo
Season Outlook: The loss of Alex Glanzer and Oliver Lockwood-Powell leave some big holes in the Lincoln lineup, but there are some definite signs of success when looking at this season’s roster. Head Coach Jordon Johnson wants to put Lincoln back on the map.
“I am excited for this year’s team," he said. "We have a good mix of juniors and seniors, and return most of our starters from last year’s team. Our players are hungry and ready to really make some noise this year and get Lincoln baseball back to what it was a few years ago.”
This team’s pitching staff has some power at the top, with Nate Brecht and Preston Riddle as potential aces and Dayne Bartels, Elliot Hackett, Max Burchill and plenty of young pitchers ready to step up. Their lineup could be explosive with senior hitters like Tada Naoe, Nick Kemper, Zach Allender and Daulton Vanderloo leading the way. And this team has a ton of underclassmen who could come up big, with Sam Siegel, Ayden Sand, Elliot Hackett, Daulton Garbers, Trey Runge, Chase Houselog and Ryne Hammerstrom in the mix.
3. Sioux Falls Washington
2018 Record: 15-10
Key Players Returning: Evan Hammer, Tanner Olmstead, Ganin Thompson, Jake Smith, Dagen Schramm, Kemmer Schram, Nate Smith, Wyatt Reitmeier, Brady Christtoffels, Tyler Boyum, Tyler Sandbulte, Jacob Glovich
Season Outlook: Head Coach Chad Barman has high hopes for Washington this season. This team has been "young" for a few seasons, but finally has 20 experienced juniors and seniors. Barman feels good about the team pitching and defense, but knows they’ll have to find more hitting to contend, saying, “We really need for our hitting to improve, because that was a significant weakness last year.”
Look for Evan Hammer to lead the offense on the base paths. He led the state in stolen bases as a sophomore last year. Washington is hoping to get some pop from Wyatt Reitmeier, Dagen Schramm and Ganin Thompson in the middle of the order. Tanner Olmstead and Ganin Thompson lead a solid rotation. That pitching staff will have to carry the Warriors into contention this year.
2018 Record: 9-11
Key Players Returning: Ethan Wishon, Kieren Luellman, Caid Koletzky, Owen Feser, Rex Ryken, Miles Carda, Levi Wiesrmsa, Owen Feser and Michael Drotzmann
Season Outlook: Yankton could be the most improved team in the class. They have much more varsity experience this season, and have one of the better hitting teams in the state. Head Coach Drew Lawrence likes the team’s depth, defense and hitting as he enters the season. “I have 12 seniors on my team this year," he said. "That doesn't usually happen very often with the school size of Yankton.”
Rex Ryken, Levi Wiersma, Ethan Wishon, Michael Drotzman and Caid Koletzky set the pace on offense while Kieren Luellman, Wishon and Koletzky make up one of the best pitching staffs in the state. If Yankton can make the batting order turnover with base runners, they’ll be tough to beat.
5. Sioux Falls O’Gorman
2018 Record: 16-10
Key Players Returning: John Rogers, Joe Lund, Mason Crow, Grady Gulbranson, Matt Fiegen, Noah Moon, Aidan Thomas, Reece Arbogast
Season Outlook: O’Gorman has an experienced group coming back. Their head coach Dan Hughes thinks defense and pitching will carry them.
“I think defense and pitching will carry us to a lot of our wins this season," he said. "Also, with the experienced group we have coming back this year, a lot of our guys have seen varsity pitching for two to three seasons, so I am very optimistic that our bats should be ready to go once the season starts.”
If O’Gorman is to contend for a title, they’ll need their pitching staff to fill out with some new names. Mason Crow and Reece Arbogast will be solid at the top, with Sam Stukel and Sam Breit trying to keep those solid innings coming.
Notes on the rest of the field
Mitchell: Luke Norden’s crew returns eight seniors with good pitching depth this year. Carson Max, Drew Kitchens, Austin Kerr and Peyton Nash lead the offense, and Jared Miller, Jackson Sadler and Koby Larson lead the pitching staff.
Sturgis: Head Coach Wade Huntington likes the makeup of this team. They finished above .500 last year and continues to improve each year. Returning starters include Josh West, Carl Nash, David Anderson, Tristan Walter, Alec Keffeler and Gage Murphey. This season they add three outstanding athletes to the team in Cedrick Stabber, Manny Gallosa and Ryan Garland. These guys have not played baseball for a couple years, but have a lot of baseball experience. If they can quickly regain those skills, they will help Sturgis win.
Roosevelt: This is the first year Joel Sage hasn’t headed the Rider Baseball team in years. They’ll be a much younger team than they’ve been in the past, but the quality of talent is still there. Karsten Grove, Ben Simonsen, Carson Devericks and Cole Adam will contribute again, while newcomers like Marcus Phillips should inject some pop in the lineup.
Pierre: The Govs have been a mainstay in the rankings over the past few seasons. This year they’ll have to rotate some new players to keep their winning ways. Look for Garrett Stout and Grey Zabel to show up big; they are among the best players in the state. Maguire Raske, Andrew Coverdale, River Iverson and Jack Maher ready to continue to contribute.
Brookings: This team was very young last year, but Tyler Kreutner and Tanner Shepardson return to lead this group this season. Brookings still has some holes and youth, but could contend by the end of the year.
Douglas: There are some teams like Douglas who don’t have a roster full of sluggers, but have some individuals who could put up big years. Bradley Anderson is just a freshman, but could be a big time basher for the Pats.
Huron: The Tigers have Bryce Steffan back to lead their pitching staff. Matt Katz and Jett McGirr are all-region selections who return to the fold.
Harrisburg: Jack Rabern suffered a football injury, but hopes to continue as a returner from the Class A All-Region team for the Tigers. Payton Metzger is just a junior, but should be one of the top players in the state.
Rapid City Central: The Cobblers hope to build some momentum this season with some experience back in their lineup. Aaron Iverson, Mitch Sand, Ty Godkin, Trey Brandhagen and Zach Hess will fuel the Cobbler squad.
1. Bon Homme/Scotland
2018 Record: 13-4; State Champs
Key Players Returning: Joey Slama, Christian Uecker, Tyler Kopp, Josh Schmidt, Riley Rothschadl, Josh Crownover, Beau Rothschadl, Nate Scieszinski, Trent Herrboldt, Zach Cuka
Season Outlook: Last season’s run to a title was an extremely tough road, but Bon Homme held on and didn’t let West Central come back in the title game. Six starters return for BH/S, with Gary Kortan back at the helm.
“We need to realize that the target is on our back this year, and teams will be eager to prove they are as good as we are. We will use that as our ‘fuel’ to stay focused and keep improving every day,” Kortan said.
Look for Joey Slama to lead the way in the batters box. He batted .333 last year and is back to start at catcher. They’ll use Christian Uecker to be the pitching ace. He can hit the mid-80s and had a 0.72 ERA with 65 strikeouts last year.
2018 Record: 16-3
Key Players Returning: Brock Anderson, Quincy Ihnen, Zach Leisinger, Holden Wagner, Ray WIlliams, JD Kirchner, Brenden Hone, Zach Foss, Tyson Stoebner, Camden Wulf, and Peyton Eich.
Season Outlook: Lennox has unfinished business from last year. After losing to West Central at the 2018 state tournament, they return almost all their lineup to build on last season’s success. Head Coach Drew Sweeter knows they have tools, but will need to improve in a few areas to keep moving forward, saying, “We'll continue to strive forward with our pitching and defense, but most important will be timely hitting along with two-out hitting.”
Brock Anderson headlines a deep and talented pitching crew. Anderson pitched 44 innings with 77 strikeouts last year. Quincy Ihnen and JD Kirschner are solid arms for the O’s, too. Zach Leisinger and Ihnen are the explosive bats in the lineup.
3. West Central
2018 Record: 14-2
Key Players Returning: Broc Haldeman, Cooper Maras, Clay Habben
Season Outlook: West Central has been a steady team over the years.Last year, they went all the way to the championship before losing to Bon Homme. They lost some heavy hitters like Brandon McKnight, Miles Mutziger and Devon Garry. Coach Bob Needles has his work cut out for him, but has talent like Broc Haldeman and Cooper Maras back to get things started.
2018 Record: 13-1
Key Players Returning: Jackson Kinzer, Layton Thieman, Joren Bruun, Oscar Pravececk, Joren Bruun, Phillip Jorgensen, Evan Farner, Fred Whiting and Jacob Beckers
Season Outlook: After a great start, Winner/Colome’s season came to an abrupt end when they lost to Lennox in the state tournament. Although they lost plenty of starters, they bring back three important players in Jackson Kinzer, Layton Thieman and Joren Bruun. Coach Drew Weber thinks this team has some pop in their lineup, but is focused on improving the team’s pitching depth as the season matures. Weber will lean on Jackson Kinzer, who turned in 29.3 innings last year with 39 K’s and a 0.47 ERA as his ace. After that, the team is short on experience but long on potential
5. Dell Rapids
2018 Record: 10-3
Key Players Returning: Keegan Miller, Eddie Price, JD Holm, and Jake Steineke
Season Outlook: Dell Rapids got off to a good start last year before losing in the regions. However, their Class B Legion team won the state championship in the summer. Coach Danny Miller likes the pitching staff this year, saying, “It will be difficult to replace the offensive production we had last year. However, our pitching should be better.”
They’ll look to Keegan Miller, Eddie Price and JD Holm for offensive production. Eddie Price can be one of the best pitchers in South Dakota if he gets clicking. Jake Steineke, Logan Stone and Ty Wood provide a lot of depth from the mound.
Dakota Valley: The Panthers may have lost a lot of starters from last year's team but they aren't short on upperclassmen. They went 11-1 last year but have four strong returners who played a big role from last year's team. Look for Nathan Rice, Jevin Kratz to lead one of the strongest pitching staffs in the state. This group is very hungry to prove they haven't fallen off.
Elk Point-Jefferson: Tyler Nolz has the Huskies ready to make a turnaround from last year’s 0-9 finish. Andrew Nearman and Tyler Goehring lead the way.
Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/ Sanborn Central Blackhawks: Head Coach Nathan Hainy has high hopes for his team that finished 7-2 last year. He commented, “We lost six seniors to graduation, so we only return three starters. Noah Hainy, Trever Schmidt, Sawyer Senska and Cooper Hainy all saw action at the varsity level last season. Pitching is our big question mark right now, so we will have to rely on solid defense to have a good season.”
Madison: Eric Hortness’ club is getting a lot of respect across the state, but just missed the top five for now. Hortness said, “Our baseball knowledge will be a huge strength. We have several guys that play a lot of baseball in the summer with some travel programs. Another strength will be our pitching depth, which will really benefit us when it comes to playoff time.” Watch out for a young but dynamic pitching staff with junior Tyler Tappe (5-0-1, 29K in 20 IP, 0.33 ERA), sophomore Evan Appelwick, sophomore Zach Whitlock, sophomore Braden Eimers, and freshman Aspen Dahl.
Hanson, Bridgewater-Emery, Mt.Vernon, Plankinton: This team has a lot of talent, including: Johan Hofer, who pitched well last season; Craig Lasley, who signed with Southwest state; and Jesse Hastings, who is also on the pitching staff and will help during the season. Head Coach Bryce Holter noted, “Last season we had a young team and only lost two players and our record was 3-6 and bounced out of the playoff by Baltic in a 5-4 game.”
Vermillion: The Tanagers took a slight dip last year, going 4-8. Head Coach Tom Heisinger is ready to get back toward the top, saying, “We’re looking for players to take the next step in their second season of varsity baseball. Jacob Chaussee, Justin Hall, Sam Ward, Drew Thelen and Dylan Thelen will be mainstays on the mound. We will be solid defensively, but offense will need to improve as well.”
ORR-Arlington: Head Coach Logan DeRungs is trying to build a winner, and that starts with getting their offense to improve. “Putting the ball in play is going to be our main focus!" he said. "My main concern is that last year we struck out a lot. I think we need to focus on being selective at the plate, and also simply putting the ball in play.” Last season they lost a lot of close games. This year they’ll look to Taylor Hojer to lead the way on the mound and at the plate.
Redfield: They put together a great playoff run, but came up just shy in the semifinals. This year, they return seven of their nine starters, including all-state or all-region players Bennett Osborn, Barrett Wren and Leyton Rohlfs. Coach Tommy Gregg is excited. “We have a good lineup that can put the ball in play," he said. "We have two to three kids at the top that can get on base and will run the bases hard. The middle of the lineup should be solid with some guys that have some pop.”
Howard: Watch out for the Tigers as they bounce back from an 8-6 team last year. Head Coach Nick Koepsell likes the team’s make. “We have seniors Michael Hofer and Noah Andersen, and juniors Colton Spader and Isaac Feldhaus. We are a young but talented team<' he said. "If we can have a couple pitchers step up for us, we’ll have a chance to make some noise in the post season.”
Gregory County: Gregory County is a team made up from players in the Gregory and Burke school districts. The past several seasons, baseball was lost in the mix with all the success in other sports and different camps or leagues going on in the area. But Head Coach Neil Hylla is feeling positive, saying, “I am hopeful that in the next few seasons our kids will be on the radar when it comes to baseball in the state of South Dakota. We will be very athletic this year, but are a young team overall. Our returning starters include Grant Thomas, Aaron Sundquist, Rhoss Oliver, Hunter Van Nieuwenhuyse and Carsen Klundt. Some new players to watch this spring will be Tommy and Coy Determan, Jordan Vosika and Evan Juracek.”