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Here's an answer to a question many Canova fans are wondering: Kevin Leighton will absolutely not play baseball next season -- not one single game. The Gang just captured their first state championship in 30 years, but who at Cadwell Park Sunday didn't wonder if Leighton would at least play a handful of games next season? After the game, this was part of my congratulatory conversation with the state's all-time leading home run hitter: Me: Congrats, Mr. Leighton.
All is well in the state's biggest small-town baseball community once again. Canova got six strong innings from Jared Donahue, Kevin Leighton played his final game and the Gang captured its first Class B state amateur championship in 30 years Sunday at Cadwell Park. "This means just a little bit to this community. I don't think there's anybody left in Miner County right now," Leighton said while celebrating with friends, family and teammates after the victory.
CANOVA -- After a come-from-behind victory Thursday, 51-year-old Kevin Leighton told his team, the Canova Gang, that his body has two more games left in it. South Dakota's all-time home run leader, who's played over 30 years of amateur baseball, promised himself going into the season that it would be his last. Leighton hit career home run No.
Canova's eighth-inning clutch hitting sent the Gang within two wins of their first state title since 1979 Thursday night at the Class B state amateur tournament at Cadwell Park. Pickup player Thomas Gulledge hit a two-out, two-RBI double to the right field corner in the bottom of the eighth, giving Canova a 10-9 lead -- its first lead since the third inning. "I knew exactly what I was looking for in that last hit," Gulledge said. "He threw it in the exact spot I was looking for.
MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are looking to accomplish something they haven't done in 30 years. After winning the NFC North last season with a 10-6 record -- its first division title since 2000 -- Minnesota is shooting to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since the 1977-78 seasons. During the offseason, the NFC North has seen numerous drastic changes, but the Vikings seem to be the team with most constants. "It's a much improved NFC North," Vikings' linebacker and Mount Vernon native Chad Greenway said.
MANKATO, Minn. -- Linebackers Chad Greenway and Ben Leber stared down quarterback Sage Rosenfels during a Monday morning practice at Mankato State University, the second full-pad scrimmage at the Minnesota Vikings' annual summer training camp. The South Dakotans -- who both worked with the No. 1 defense -- each are entering their fourth year with the Vikings and the two starters are perennial locks to make the 45-man roster.
MANKATO, Minn. -- Previously injured Vikings' quarterback Tarvaris Jackson worked with the No. 1 offense Monday at training camp, throwing a quick slant for a touchdown to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe during a scrimmage against the No. 2 defense. During a goal-line stand, Jackson fired the pass right in between Shiancoe's numbers on fourth down from the three-yard line. The defense previously held Minnesota running backs from scoring on three straight downs. Later in the scrimmage, Jackson hit a few receivers near the sideline, but he also held on to the ball too long on a couple plays.
A roughly three-hour rain delay didn't bother Menno starter Kevin Kunz. He retook the mound after the severe thunderstorm passed the Mitchell area and Cadwell Park, keeping Clear Lake scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings. Kunz gave up five runs over eight innings and the Menno Mad Frogs dropped Clear Lake 12-5 in the first round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday. "I went and sat out in the parking lot for about an hour, making sure we weren't going to get hailed on," Kunz said.
The high-powered Parkston Mudcats, who won the Sunshine League, got bounced from the state amateur tournament by scoring only one run against Flandreau Sunday. Three Flandreau pitchers combined to hold Parkston to one run on six hits, while striking out eight Mudcat batters. Flandreau scored one run in the fourth and one in the fifth off Parkston starter Mike Bowar, who pitched a complete game. "You're not going to win many games scoring one run, but you have to give credit to their pitching," Parkston manager Dave Roth said.
On a night that looked to be anything but good baseball weather, Bob Young still showed up for his shift at Cadwell Park. Thursday's damp, chilly evening brought a small crowd to the state amateur baseball tournament, but Young wasn't there to watch.