Sunshine League kicks off regular season play on SundayThe Parkston Mudcats won the Sunshine League regular season last year, but manager Dave Roth knows it’s anybody’s game this year.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
The Parkston Mudcats won the Sunshine League regular season last year, but manager Dave Roth knows it’s anybody’s game this year.
The Mudcats finished league play with a 12-2 mark last year while Dimock-Emery finished in second at 11-3. Dimock-Emery went on to win the district championship, which hosts all of Sunshine League teams except for the Mitchell Mad Dogs, who play in Class A, whereas the others play in Class B. This year’s Sunshine League consists of the Parkston Mudcats, the Parkston Bullheads, the Parkston Rock Bass, Platte, Mount Vernon, Mitchell, Corsica/Stickney, Dimock/Emery and Alexandria.
“This year our league is going to be really balanced,” Roth said.
Alexandria finished third in the league with a 9-5 record, but expects a run for a title this season.
“Our issue last year was staying healthy,” manager Chris Marek said. “As long as we can stay healthy I think we’re in a good situation.”
Alexandria hopes to have Jordan and Tyson Gau healthy and able to play for the team this season. Both were unable to help out the team at the end of last year due to injuries.
“Them being back and healthy will be a huge asset to the team” Marek said.
Dimock-Emery’s Brad Bartscher knows that although his team won the district championship a season ago, Alexandria is the team to beat.
“They’ve got a really nice team right now. They’re athletic and have pretty good pitching,” he said. “Everybody’s going to be tough, but Alexandria has that little edge right now.”
The rest of the league standings last season were Mitchell at 7-7, Platte with a record of 5-9, Parkston Rock Bass was 5-9, Corsica/Stickney finished 4-10, and Delmont went 3-11.
Bullheads manager Bob Malloy said the team doesn't expect to compete for a league title. The Bullheads had a team two years ago, but didn't compete last year.
"We would just like to be competitive and hang in some games," he said.
Malloy expects the Mudcats to have another strong season. He also named Dimock-Emery, Alexandria and Mount Vernon as teams he expects to finish toward the top of the standings.
Aaron Moller, co-manager for Corsica/Stickney, said Alexandria is the team to beat this year in the Sunshine League. “They picked up a few good pitchers,” he said. “I would expect them to win it all.”
Moller said his team is younger than in years past and is setting a goal to finish in the top four.
“We just want to compete with other teams,” he said. “Hopefully we can surprise some people.”
Platte manager Todd Strand said despite last season’s record, he has high expectations for his squad.
“We’ll be pretty well-rounded,” he said. “We should be pretty competitive.”
Bartscher said the level of competition in the Sunshine League this year will be very high.
“The Sunshine League as a whole is up toward the top among leagues,” he said.
League play begins Sunday with a few matchups around the area.
The biggest weekend matchup has defending-champion Parkston Mudcats hosting Alexandria at 6 p.m. Sunday in Parkston.
Alexandria defeated Canova 7-2 in its only game while the Mudcats are 1-1 on the season.
“Our goal is always to win the league and the district tournament and that will be our goal again this year,” Roth said.
“We’re solid one through nine in the lineup and we had a lot of kids playing college ball which helps.”