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Mitchell to challenge out-of-state opponents

Mitchell Post 18 has struggled with stringing together wins this season in doubleheaders.

But today, Mitchell will be tested in a new light by playing in its first tournament this season. Post 18 (7-5) takes a break from South Dakota competition and will play in the Eagan (Minn.) tournament for the first time.

The Eagan event kicks off a three-weekend stretch of tournaments, including one more in Minnesota and finishing with another in North Dakota.

"We've struggled in doubleheaders this year and that's going to have to change if we want to be successful in a tournament because you play two games every day," Mitchell coach Luke Norden said. "The last two years we've had a core group of guys who have done extremely well in tournaments. A lot of those guys are gone with our large graduation group, so it'll be interesting to see how these younger guys react to playing different and high-level competition."

The tournament is a pool-play format for the first two days. Winners of each pool advance to a bracket Sunday.

Mitchell kicks off play against the Rochester A's (Minn.) at 4:30 p.m. today and finishes the first day against Excelsior (Minn.) at 7 p.m.

"We've split with Excelsior over the last couple of years, but we play some of these teams periodically, so you don't see the same kids," Norden said. "It's nice to play kids you know nothing about because our kids just worry about what we're doing. That's the best thing about playing unknown opponents."

Post 18 continues pool play Saturday against St. Paul Park (Minn.) at 9 a.m. and East Ridge (Minn.) at 11:30 a.m. Mitchell might have better odds playing on the road against Minnesota opponents as the team has posted a 5-2 record away from Cadwell Park this year.

Norden said his team will rely on starting pitchers, Jed Schmidt, Derek Miller, Michael Sadler and Ben Miller.

Schmidt (2-0) leads the group of starters with an earned run average of 3.00. He's pitched 12 innings in two games and has a team-high 13 strikeouts. Sadler (2-0) has a 5.54 ERA over 13 innings with nine strikeouts.

Ben Miller (0-2) has a 6.48 ERA over 8.1 innings with three strikeouts, while Derek Miller (0-1) has thrown nine innings and recorded an ERA of 9.00, adding eight strikeouts.

Schmidt and Sadler also lead the team offensively, batting .426 and .400. Schmidt has recorded a team-best 20 hits, with four doubles and 10 RBIs, which ranks second on the team.

Post 18 has four players who are batting over .300, including Spencer Neugebauer, who leads the team in RBIs with 11 and has an average of .356. Mitchell's other three players hitting above .300 are Matt Larson (.364), Derek Miller (.361) and Dylanger Pierson (.314).

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.