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Baseball numbers steady in Mitchell

Mitchell’s Matt Larson (2) waits for a pitch in a Legion baseball game against Brookings Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. Also pictured are Jed Schmidt, left, and Derek Miller (15). (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

Hundreds of boys gather at the baseball diamonds around Mitchell every summer, working hard to make the double-play or hit one out of the park.

This summer is no different as the sport has remained popular in the Mitchell area. The amount of kids playing baseball has been consistent in the community, but more playing time has been granted for players at the teener levels.

This year, there are 35 kids playing teener baseball, or 14-and-under, for the Mitchell Baseball Association. In previous years, there have been just two teams of roughly 18 kids per team.

MBA President Jim Larson said this summer parents wanted to have three teams.

"With a lower number on each team, kids will have more opportunity to play in the game," Larson said, adding this is the first time since he became a member of the board in 2002 that there has been three teener teams. "The kids will have to be committed to the program because it's a lot of games and with low-number rosters, players will have to show up."

There are 12 players on both the Mitchell Black and White teener teams, while 11 players make up the Mitchell Gold teener roster.

There are roughly 30 players between the junior Legion and Legion teams.

Traveling teams booming at 8U

This summer, there are 11 traveling youth baseball teams from Mitchell, with four teams representing the 8U division.

"It seems to be growing at the younger levels," said Brian Nash, a traveling team coach. "I think the younger teams are growing because they can play at a little bit higher of competition. There's traveling teams in every town and these teams get to play in the state tournament every summer."

There are two 12U, one 11U, two 10U and two 9U teams this summer. Nash said this is a pretty standard amount of traveling teams.

Park and Rec supports regular numbers

The numbers at the Mitchell Park and Recreation level are normal, according to recreation director Kevin DeVries.

There are 248 kids out for baseball between its four leagues, which are kindergarten, first/second grade, third/fourth grade and 12U. There are 85 kids -- or six teams -- at the kindergarten and first/second grade levels. All kindergarten league teams are coached by parents.

There are 56 kids in the third/fourth grade league, which is up 15 from last year, DeVries said.

Besides the kindergarten league, the Mitchell Legion baseball players coach the Park and Rec baseball program.

"I think the younger kids love having those Legion kids as coaches," DeVries said. "They get excited about going to Legion games and seeing their coaches play."

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