Mitchell Baseball Association waiting on registration numbersOver the next three weeks, player registration will help mold how baseball will be played in Mitchell this summer.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Over the next three weeks, player registration will help mold how baseball will be played in Mitchell this summer.
Mitchell Baseball Association President Jim Larson is stressing the importance for sign-up, which began Wednesday and runs through Feb. 27.
“This way we can get our numbers in order and we’ll know what our teams will be and how many we’ll have,” Larson said. “We’d like to get 14 kids on every team. … If a kid signs up late or decides to come out late, we’ll take the registration. But he may become the 15th kid on the team.”
This summer there will be some noticeable changes for the MBA.
There will be a junior Legion team during the summer that replaces the Mitchell Gold, which played in 15-16 VFW teener majors state tournament. Larson said all of the largest towns in South Dakota that were previously in Class AA will now play junior Legion. The state junior Legion tournament will be held in Sioux Falls July 25-28. The winner advances to the regional tournament in Fargo, N.D.
Larson added there still is a Class AA 15-16 VFW minors division in South Dakota, but he didn’t think Mitchell would have enough players to participate in it this year but could in the future.
“For summer baseball, we’re going to put 14 kids on the Legion team, 14 kids on the junior Legion and then start working our way down from there,” Larson said.
Last year, MBA fielded four VFW teener baseball teams, including two 13-year-old squads, a team of 14-year-olds and the 15-16 team. Larson is waiting to see player registration numbers in the next three weeks before the MBA board makes a final decision on how many teams the town will field this summer.
After registration is complete, there will be evaluations required for all players planning to play summer baseball who are not on the spring high school teams. High school and Legion coach Luke Norden, along with former and current Dakota Wesleyan University players, will assess players’ talent levels during practices on March 27-28 and April 1 at Drake Field. Teams will be announced at the end of the first week in April.
“We’re doing this to put a kid in an enjoyable, competitive situation,” Larson said. “We want players to play in a group of compatible skill levels.”
Traditionally, 13- and 14-year-old players competed at their own age levels, whereas this year the junior Legion is open to anyone ages 13 to 17.
Larson said, depending on registration numbers, there also could be two 13-year-old teams this year. One of the teams would play a more aggressive schedule and another would be a devel-opmental team playing fewer games and scheduling against smaller, area towns.
Most of the scheduling has been completed but coaches have yet to be determined, Larson said. All of the information about registration, player evaluations and other important dates and forms can be found at Michellbaseball.net. Larson estimated 66 to 75 players to register for summer baseball this year.
“In the future, with the large number of kids playing baseball in Mitchell, I don’t think it’s too far down the road that we’ll be fielding five summer teams,” he said.
Larson was confident there would be a spring junior varsity team in addition to the high school varsity team for the second straight year, but added at least 13 players will be needed to field a roster. Voluntary practices will be held starting Feb. 24 at the Mitchell Middle School gymnasium and run through the middle of March. The first mandatory practice for varsity high school baseball is March 18, while mandatory JV practice starts April 8.