Parkston Mudcats eyeing Sunshine League title and more after back-to-back quarterfinal losses at statePARKSTON — In the previous two seasons, the Parkston Mudcats finished atop the Sunshine League amateur baseball standings and made it to the Class B state tournament.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
PARKSTON — In the previous two seasons, the Parkston Mudcats finished atop the Sunshine League amateur baseball standings and made it to the Class B state tournament.
Both trips to the state tournament saw the Mudcats falling in the quarterfinals, three wins shy of a state championship.
This year, with one regular season game remaining, the Mudcats again have an opportunity to claim the Sunshine League crown.
Manager Dave Roth said he expected his team to be at the top of the league standings once again, but has set higher goals for his club.
“Our goal is always to win the state title,” Roth said. “That’s one thing you always hope to do, but first we have to get there.”
If the Mudcats win their final league contest against Mitchell tonight at 8 p.m. in Parkston they will lock up the top seed heading into districts.
A top-two finish at districts and the team will be locked in for another state tournament berth.
“It’s always a goal to win the regular-season title and set yourself up in the district tournament,” Mudcats player Brady Nolz said. “Your next goal then is to win the district tournament and then the state tournament.”
Nolz, who is in his third season with the Mudcats, said last year’s 4-3 loss to eventual state runner-up Tabor has been motivation for this year’s team.
“We’ve got pretty big motivation because we lost a game that we felt we should have won,” he said. “That could have been us playing in the championship.”
Roth said the team’s success has been in large part due to the pitching staff. Nolz leads the pitching staff with a 6-1 record and gave credit to the players around him for his wins.
“We have a great catcher in Dylan Dwyer,” Nolz said. “I feel he’s one of the best defensive catchers in the state which helps our pitching rotation.
“And Jeff Harris is a great leadoff hitter who’s always getting on base for us.”
Roth said the team’s offensive leaders this season have been Dwyer, Harris and Trevor Freudenthal. Roth said all three are hitting around the .400 mark.
The Mudcats have a similar record as last year, but hope to move deeper into the postseason. The team is 17-4 overall and 12-2 in the Sunshine League.
Last year, the team ended the regular season at 12-2 in the league and 18-4 overall.
“We’ve got pretty much the same team as last year,” Roth said. “Once you get to the state tournament, whatever team puts five good games together is going to win it.”
Roth said he is not looking ahead at his team’s state tournament aspirations with districts coming up.
Two teams from each district qualify for the state tournament and the Mudcats have tough competition to get through.
Alexandria has the same league record as the Mudcats at 12-2 while Dimock/Emery finished the year with its league record at 11-4.
The top three teams have had many competitive games against one another. Alexandria won its two games against Dimock/Emery, Dimock/Emery swept a pair with the Mudcats and the Mudcats came out on top both times they faced Alexandria.
“Districts is going to be a battle,” Nolz said. “I feel we have a good coach who can put a good lineup on the field and make good decisions for us so we have good chances.”
District play starts for Class B Sunshine League teams July 19 with the Class B state amateur tournament beginning Aug. 1 in Mitchell.