Winner will be the host of the state Class B Junior Legion baseball tournament Aug. 3-5.
Leahy Bowl will be the sight of the state tournament which will draw visitors from across the state to Winner. City crews have been working hard to prepare the field for the state tourney.
The first round pairings on Aug. 3 include:
10 a.m.—Mission vs. Lennox
12:30—Redfield vs. Wessington Springs
2:45—Warner/Ipswich/Northwestern (WIN) vs. Clark
5:30—Claremont/Britton vs. Groton
7:45—Winner vs the winner of the Mission and Lennox game
The opening ceremony will be at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Games will continue 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The championship game will be played at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5.
A coaches meeting will be at 9 a.m. Friday at Leahy Bowl.
Last year Winner won the consolation championship.
This is the second year for a Junior Legion state tournament.
“We’ve had a pretty successful season up to this point,” said Winner coach Kory Foss.
“We started really fast out of the gates and rattled off a bunch of wins and I think maybe got complacent at times after that, which resulted in a bit of a skid as we hit mid-season. It’s true we played some tougher competition, but we kind of got away from some of the things we did really well early in the year – like throwing strikes and playing good defense – and that cost us some games we probably should have had,” said Foss
“Baseball is a game of streaks, and we learned that this summer. I think this last week or two the kids have started to find their step again and are feeling good heading towards state,” explained the coach.
Fred Whiting is the leading hitter- batting .500 on the year with 30 hits and and 33 RBI’s. Oscar Pravecek is hitting .403 with 27 hits and 19 RBI’s and has only struck out 5 times in 88 plate appearances. Kameron Meiners is batting .387 with 24 hits and 17 RBI’s. Joren Bruun is at .369 with 24 hits, Phil Jorgensen is hitting .361 with 26 hits and Cobly Kaiser is batting .338 with 25 hits and 2 home runs.
Kameron Meiners has thrown the most innings this season at 41.1. He’s 3-4 with an ERA of 2.03. Joren Bruun has thrown 38 innings and is 4-3 with an ERA of 2.76. He has struck out a team-high 38 batters. Jacob Beckers has pitched 21 innings and is 5-1 with an ERA of 2.67. Evan Farner is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.16 in 18 innings of work. Aaron Gilchrist is 2-1 in 8 appearances including 3 starts.
“It’s a pretty cool experience to be part of a state tournament on your own field and the kids are excited about it. The summer season can be a grind at times, but each game has been in preparation to get us ready for this tournament. Yes wins and losses count, but what really matters is what we take from each of them that will benefit us come state,” said Foss
“The competition at this year’s tournament is going to be top-notch, as it is with any state tournament. There may not be as many Jr. Legion teams in South Dakota as Teener teams, but I think Jr. Legion possess some of the strongest programs,” said the coach
“We drew the winner of the Lennox/Mission game. We have already faced Mission this summer, and know from club baseball that Lennox is one of the best teams in the state with some really good athletes.
Groton, Clark, and Redfield are all in the field and are traditionally strong programs. Other teams like W.I.N. (Warner, Ipswhich, Northwestern), Wessington Springs, and Claremont/Britton can come in and play just as well. It’s just a matter of which team is prepared and can execute.” said Foss.
He added: “Baseball is a funny sport, and if you don’t come in ready to hit the ground running you’re going to be heading home early. I believe if we play like we are capable of on offense and defense, and our pitchers come in and throw strikes, we will have a chance come Aug. 5 to do something special. This is a great group of kids, and this is a fitting way to finish what has been a fun season,” said Foss.