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State Legion tourney in Tabor for first time in 30 years

TABOR -- It has been 30 years since the Tabor Legion baseball team has hosted the state tournament, and even longer since the team has played in the event on its home field.

Tabor (10-4) plays Dakota Valley in the final of four first-round games today at Leonard Cimpl Field. The matchup is scheduled to start 30 minutes after the conclusion of a game between Parkston and Madison, which begins at 5 p.m.

When Tabor hosted the tournament in 1984, the home team was not automatically a part of the tournament. Now, the host team is automatically qualified. The team won the Legion state title the next season in 1985, which is the last championship for Post 183.

Gary Kortan, who coaches the high school spring baseball team and teener teams in Tabor, said many improvements were made to the ballpark in preparation for the tournament.

"The city really stepped up and we got a lot of things done," Kortan said. "We have a new scoreboard, a new outfield fence, we renovated our batting cage and our grandstand and we have new lights."

Kortan said he worked with Cimpl, the man who the field in Tabor is named after, to get the tournament in Tabor and the city has had two years to plan and get ready.

"I sure would not have wanted to get everything ready in a couple of months," Kortan said jokingly about the work that went into preparation for the event that runs through Tuesday.

Tabor coach Ken Ranek said the recent success for Post 183 will help with the team's confidence as it moves through the tournament. Tabor reached the high school finals and won the state 15- and 16-year-old tournament in 2013, with many of the same players.

Ranek said Dakota Valley will be a tough test in the first round and the Post 183 pitching will have to be solid.

Leading the Tabor pitching staff is Ross Kortan, who will start against Dakota Valley. Kortan, a pitcher with the Dakota State University baseball team, came back after his freshman year of college to help lead the Legion team to a successful regular season. Ross will be playing in his third state Legion tournament.

"Ross is going to have to be the catalyst for our group and he will need to bring his A-game," Ranek said.

Adding to Tabor's pitching depth is Austin Kaul, Chase Kortan and Hunter Young. Ranek said he has used eight different pitchers this season. The team's earned run average is 2.70.

Young is batting .529, while Chase Kortan has a .485 average for Post 183 this season. Cole Uecker and Scott Wieseler have also been strong for Tabor, which is batting .305 as a team.

"The team is very excited to host the tournament," Ranek said. "The city of Tabor itself is excited. We have a tremendous amount of people helping. There is a lot of heart and pride in the little town of Tabor."