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Pony Hills League set to begin: amateur baseball teams ready to kick off competition

(Republic File Photo) Plankinton's Matt Buschbach prepares to throw to first during the Class B amateur baseball state tournament last year at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

Pony Hills League play is set to start on Sunday and the teams are excited and ready for a new season. This year, two new teams join the league and hope to be strong contenders.

Kimball/White Lake and Wessington Springs are the two new additions and both teams say they are ready for league play to begin.

"So far so good," Wessington Springs manager Nathan Hainy said of his team's preseason play.

"We're playing pretty well and better than I think all of us expected. I think all of us (on the team) have already exceeded our expectations."

Hainy said even though there are a number of new players on the team this year, everyone has been playing together very well.

"I was concerned with that originally, that we wouldn't be able to gel, but it seems like the new guys that have never played with us before have really come together," he said.

"I think we've got a pretty good shot at making the state tournament if we play like we've played in our first few games."

Wessington Springs had a team in 2010, but didn't have enough players to form a team last season.

Kimball/White Lake manager Wesley Kroupa said he was just happy to be able to get a team together this year and so far things have been going really well.

"We've made pretty big strides in the first four games," Kroupa said.

"We've got a great group of guys and I think it's a very realistic goal that we can make it to the state tournament this year. We're pretty competitive with all the teams in our league and we have a really good chance of making it to the state tournament. Especially with baseball, you never know what could happen."

Last year, Miller/Wessington ended its season at the top of league standings with a league record of 10-2. Plankinton came in second with a mark of 8-4 and Chamberlain was third at 5-4. Huron is the only team that did not reform a team for this season.

Despite its success last year, Miller/Wessington manager Steve Ellsworth said his team will be facing a lot of tough competition this season and doesn't think there is a favorite going into league play.

"It's going to be a dog fight all the way through," Ellsworth said.

"Top to bottom it's going to be pretty competitive and our season record last year doesn't really reflect how we'll play this year. Every year we just try and come out of districts with a state tournament berth and that's our main goal."

Plankinton manager Chris Hill also feels that there isn't going to be a favorite this year, and is excited to start league play on Sunday.

"I think the Pony Hills League has a lot of really great teams this year," he said.

"We have some room for improvement just like anybody during preseason, but we want to work out the kinks and hopefully be ready to go for league play."

Plankinton will travel to Miller, Kimball/White Lake will host Chamberlain and Wessington Springs will play 4-Corners to kick off league play on Sunday.

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