Mitchell Mad Dogs amateur baseball team off to hot start this summerThe Mitchell Mad Dogs amateur baseball team has 16 players on its roster this summer.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
By TRAVIS MESTER
The Daily Republic
The Mitchell Mad Dogs amateur baseball team has 16 players on its roster this summer.
And seven of them were not on the squad a year ago.
“A lot of the guys didn’t even know each other,” Mad Dogs manager Pat Skinner said. “I had some of them introduce themselves before the first game; to communicate on the field, you have to know each other’s names.
“That’s how little some of the guys knew each other before the season.”
The Mad Dogs have not used the unfamiliarity as an excuse, though.
Mitchell has started the season 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the Sunshine League. The Mad Dogs face league-rival Parkston Rock Bass at 8 p.m. today at Cadwell Park.
The team welcomed four new members from the dissolved Wessington Springs Owls, who played in the Pony Hills League last summer but did not have enough players to field a team this year. The Mad Dogs also have a trio of players that played high school ball last year.
“I can definitely tell you that without them, we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” Skinner said. “We have 16 guys on the roster and it wouldn’t work to go with 12, that’s for sure.”
Adam Kaus, Arin Boschee, Austin Olson and Jay Fischer all came over from Wessington Springs. Dustin Taylor played for Harrisburg High School, while Kyle Larson and Jamie Huber were members of Mitchell’s Post 18 Legion team.
“This whole team is a lot different than the teams I’ve played on the past four years,” said centerfielder and leadoff man Beau Van Overschelde, who has played in only three games this summer because of work commitments.
The newcomers have provided plenty of production early on this summer, too. Statistics are accurate through six games and do not include Mitchell’s win over Delmont on Sunday.
Boschee and Kaus have helped strengthen the team’s pitching rotation. Boschee has a team-high two victories, while Kaus picked up a win over Plankinton. Huber is hitting .304 at the plate and has driven in six runs to go along with seven runs scored.
Kaus said in his eight years with the Owls, he never has dealt with as much roster turnover as this summer.
“We’d pick up a guy or two, but the core guys were always the same,” said Kaus, who plays shortstop normally when he is not on the mound. “We knew coming to the Mad Dogs who the players were that were pretty good … and they’ve been that good since we got here.”
Olson has caught the majority of the games for Mitchell so far this summer and Kaus said that has made the pitching transition an easier one. Olson played for seven years on the Wessington Springs amateur team.
“That does help knowing the catcher,” Kaus said. “I’ve pitched to him all the years I’ve played amateur ball; he knows what I like to throw and when I like to throw it.”
The veterans on the Mad Dogs have not been too bad, either.
Alex Loes is hitting .474 — best on the team among hitters with more than seven at-bats through the season’s first six games — and has driven in 10 runs while scoring seven times. Billy Hamilton, who catches and plays outfield, is hitting .429 with 11 RBIs.
Jason Skinner is hitting .417 with seven runs scored and Rich Wiese is hitting .389 at the plate and has a victory on the mound.
Loes, Van Overshelde, Hamilton, Skinner, Wiese, Jordan Piper, Marty Takagi, Shannon Sandoval and Steve Jackson all are players that have been with the Mad Dogs for a while. Skinner and Takagi have been with the team since its first year eight summers ago.
“Overall, Alex Loes is having a really good season,” Pat Skinner said. “He’s standing out and Jamie Huber is doing a great job. Billy Hamilton has been on fire and Jason Skinner has been doing well. It seems like it’s very balanced offensively.
The Mad Dogs only loss this season came to the Parkston Mudcats. They also will face defending Class B state amateur champion Dimock/Emery twice in the next few weeks. The Sunshine League is known as one of the top amateur leagues in the state year in out, but the Mad Dogs hope to continue to sit near the top of the standings all summer long.
“I think, with the group we have this season, we should be able to hopefully stay at that level and compete at the top of the league,” Pat Skinner said. “Unfortunately, at the end of the year we have to move up to Class A and we don’t get to play in the Sunshine League Tournament, but our goal is to win the league’s regular season title.”
Note: The Mitchell Mad Dogs will host a Reverse Raffle when they host the defending Class B state amateur champion Dimock/Emery Raptors on June 19 at Cadwell Park. The raffle is for the benefit of the Mad Dogs and will be sponsored by the Modern Woodmen of America, Chapter 317. Cost will be $10 per ticket and the grand prize is $250 and a $100 Cabela’s gift card to be given away during the seventh inning stretch. Other prizes will be drawn throughout the game. All proceeds up to $2,500 will be matched by Modern Woodmen.