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Twins lead team after four years with Post 18

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sports Mitchell, 57301
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Baseball is everything to Josh and Jared Schmidt.

Although they share the same passion, when watching them play it's like looking into a mirror. Josh throws left-handed, while Jared throws right. Josh bats right-handed, while Jared bats left.

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Through similarities and differences, the twins have pitched, hit and fielded their way to becoming two of the Mitchell Legion team's veterans over the last four years.

"They've continuously gotten better," said Mitchell Legion coach Luke Norden, who's in his sixth year as head coach. "When they came in as freshmen, they struggled in certain areas and they worked their tails off and do a great job now."

In the Schmidt household, Jason, the twins' oldest brother, set the tone for baseball. Jason played Legion ball for five years and went on to play at Mount Marty College from 2008-2012. In high school, Jason was a part of the 2006 spring championship team and the 2008 team which played in the Legion title game.

But now, the twins have something over Jason -- a Region 2A title.

"I got a text from my mom after the region tournament saying, 'The twins did something that you didn't do,' " said Jason, who was a part of the Post 18 team which won a Region 1A title in 2008, a year where the regions were reshaped. "It was kind of funny, but I think watching them have success is rewarding as a brother. It's sweet that they won the region and are having such a successful final season in Mitchell."

Josh and Jared were brought up to play for the Legion team in 2010 -- a year where Josh earned playing time during the state tournament. Norden said first baseman Josh and shortstop Jared played sporadically throughout the 2010 season.

"Some of the kids coming up through the teener program are better than others because they're purely stronger than other kids," Norden said. "That was a reason they were brought up when they were freshmen because they were stronger than everybody else. It takes strength to hit certain pitches that they hit and to do a lot of things defensively."

After putting in countless hours in the season and offseason, the Schmidts have earned their time on the field.

As juniors, the Schmidts played in a combined 108 games, missing only four games between the two. This season, they've played in a combined 89 games, missing seven games during the season.

"It really comes down to how bad you want to play baseball," said Josh, who has four wins on the mound with an ERA of 5.27 this season. "At first, it's always rough, but then you get to learn the ropes and get playing time your junior and senior years."

In the last two Legion seasons, the twins have finished in Post 18's top three in hitting. In 2012, Jared led the team in batting average (.478), RBIs (57), doubles (13) and triples (5). Josh finished the season with a .310 batting average, a second-best 45 RBIs, four doubles and one triple.

They are the top two hitters on the team this season, heading into the state tournament. Jared leads an average of .406 with Josh on his heels at .397. Josh leads in RBIs with 50 with Jared posting a second-best 45.

They are the third and fourth batters in Mitchell's lineup and have been locked in those spots for several years.

"Jared has been thrown around a little bit and guys are a little bit more careful with him," Norden said. "But it's great because Josh hits behind him. If they want to put Jared on, they meet another one just like him next."

It's easy to see the work paid off for the Schmidts and they credit Norden for a lot of their success.

"The experience has been awesome with coach Norden over the past four years," said Jared, who is playing at Mount Marty College next season. "With the experience and knowledge he's given us through this coaching abilities has been awesome.

"We put in the time because it makes the team better. If everyone else is going to put in the hours, we might as well too."

Their time and commitment to their favorite sport is not only shown through their skills on the field but through leadership.

"Guys look at what they do, how hard they hit the ball and look at how calm they are at all times," Norden said. "They never get worked up about things, which is great because they have the same demeanor all the time. It really makes everybody else have the same attitude."

That attitude has led the twins to be able to enjoy playing together -- not competing against each other.

"It's never been a competition between us," Jared said. "We've always been the chill twins that don't get in fights. We go with the flow."

With all they've put into baseball, the twins have one goal as their high school careers come to an end.

"We do everything you have to do to prepare to win the state tournament," Jared said. "We want to go out on a good note."

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