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Generally, defense and pitching can take a softball team a long way. The Mitchell High School softball team is hoping that can happen for them, bringing the offense along as soon as possible in a season that is roughly six weeks long. "I think we will have the pitching and the defense," said Mitchell coach Jim Misiaszek "The key factor is when we're going to be able to hit our stride offensively. Hitting is a fickle thing so we're really going to focus on the offense during the early part of the season, because defensively, we have a lot of our questions answered."
The high school sports season doesn't start with a whistle, a starter's gun or the toss of a ball. Instead, under the auspice of a doctor, where blood pressure is monitored, heartbeats are screened and the body is checked for a range of issues from orthopedics to concussions. For the thousands of South Dakota boys and girls who will play high school sports this season, there's forms to be filled out assuring that they're healthy enough to participate. Those forms include athletic physicals, waivers to play and concussion information.
After just three wins a year ago and starting underclassmen throughout the year, it was a rough go for the Mitchell Kernels volleyball team in 2015. But another offseason of work and more experience should allow the Kernels to compete a bit more in the rough world of Class AA volleyball in South Dakota, leaning on athleticism and depth to build themselves into a better team.
There were both highs and lows in the Mitchell High School girls tennis season a year ago. In 2016, another year of experience and an improved focus should help the Kernels find more success. Mitchell's season opens today with an 11:30 a.m. dual at Vermillion. The home opener for the Kernels is Tuesday, with the Kernels hosting the Tanagers and Rapid City Central at Hitchcock Park. The team has just one senior—Kaihlen Smith—and five of the six starters in singles are returners to the team.
Going down as the first undefeated team in the modern history of South Dakota amateur baseball, Alexandria did a lot of things right. That success started and ended with the team's pitching. The team had an earned run average of 1.02 in completing the 28-0 season, capped with a nearly flawless start from Tyson Gau Sunday in the Class B championship game, a 7-1 win over Garretson at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.
Same teams. Another one-run, extra-inning game. Another Renner Monarchs Class A championship at the Sioux Falls Brewers' expense at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. Despite giving up three runs in its effort to close out the contest, Renner broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the 10th inning and defeated the archrival Brewers 6-5 in the state title game Sunday at Cadwell Park.
Once again, the Alexandria Angels are Class B state champions. Playing in its fourth consecutive state championship game, Alexandria (28-0) got a stellar starting pitching performance from Tyson Gau and put together enough offense to earn a comfortable 7-1 win over Garreston on Sunday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. Gau held the Blue Jays to five hits in the win and picked up five strikeouts. Alexandria won its first-ever state championship in 2013 and finished second in 2014 (Wynot, Nebraska) and 2015 (Parkston Mudcats).
Until the ninth inning Friday, it had been a rough season of baseball for Nick Bruning of the Sioux Falls Brewers. Even with a .333 batting average during the season, he has been nursing a hamstring injury and had been held hitless in four previous plate appearances in the Class A winner's bracket semifinal against archrival Renner at Cadwell Park. But Bruning picked a nice time to break through.
Another Minnesota Vikings training camp came to a close this week and with it, the clock seems to continue to run out on a longtime Upper Midwest tradition. I grew up in south-central Minnesota and lived a half-hour from Mankato. As a young Vikings fan, I looked forward to training camp. It was a chance to see the players from my favorite team up close and personal. You could see Randy Moss or Daunte Culpepper or Cris Carter standing out there. It was visual proof that Bryant McKinnie was taller than everyone else on the field or that Brad Johnson could throw a pretty good pass.
Colman won Tuesday's second-round contest at the Class B state amateur baseball tournament in Mitchell but both the A's and their opponent Kimball/White Lake were left wanting more. The Nationals felt they were a few chances away from a winning result, while Colman left 13 men on base in the 5-3 win at Cadwell Park, believing they could have broken the game open. So it goes in the game of baseball. "We were right there with them," said KWL manager Wes Kroupa. "It's just one of those games where if we make one or two more plays, we could be talking about a win."