The world of amateur baseball in South Dakota is small.
With 65 teams overall and 53 of those teams are in Class B, there's not many teams to begin with. Thirty-two teams, of course, make the Class B state tournament, and 26 of those teams are making repeat trips to Mitchell.
That makes for a lot of familiarity, with teams and players that have a decent idea of how the other teams play. So the question is this? How much scouting do teams do for the first game of the state tournament?
Take Dimock/Emery, for example. It is one of the stalwarts in Class B amateur baseball, regularly making the state tournament and winning multiple games often. This year, it plays the Dell Rapids Mudcats in the first round at 1 p.m. Saturday and will face them for a second consecutive year. The two teams played a year ago in the second round of the state tournament, and Dell Rapids won 3-1.
Manager Brad Bartscher said it worked out that some of the Raptors' players were able to watch the District 4B final between the Mudcats and Madison on Saturday, which Dell Rapids won 13-11.
"We were lucky that we were able to go and watch them play, so we have a little bit of an idea of what to expect," Bartscher said. "But really, you just go out and play and try to take care of it yourself."
Add in the prior experience of playing the Mudcats and the Raptors will have a decent handle of what to expect in their first game.
"You sort of know every year is different and the pitching changes," Bartscher said. "But saying that, there's still a lot of players that are still on the team. ... It can't hurt to see them play."
Similarly, the amateur baseball teams from Crofton (Neb.) and Salem know each other about as well as one could figure, especially for a pair of non-league teams,
The two teams are 75 miles apart straight down U.S. Highway 81 and played each other twice this season - with the South Central League champion Blue Jays winning both times, a 14-12 slugfest at Crofton on May 11 and a 4-0 contest in Salem on June 17.
But Cubs third baseman and co-manager Cole Cheeseman said he's not expecting anything drastically different in their 11 a.m. Saturday opening-round game.
"I think in the end, it won't really change what you do," said Cheeseman, of their prior meetings. "We know a couple of (Crofton's) players can hit and we know about a few of the pitchers. But you try not to focus on that too much but things can change. We're more concerned ourselves because we're a young team and hopefully we can do what we can to win."
If there is one advantage, Cheeseman admits, it's that the Cubs are a young team, with many of their players still in their 20s in a sport known for seeing careers extend into a player's 40s and 50s. Salem is one of six teams that didn't make the tournament a year ago (the others are Beresford, Lesterville, Madison, Miller/Wessington, and Platte).
"Honestly, most of us are young and not many teams are going to know much about us, and in the same instance, we don't know as much about everyone else," he said.
As the tournament wears on, it's harder to get a read on what teams will do. Fatigue plays more of an effect and No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 options take the mound.
"Definitely later in the tournament, you're just trying to feel each other out and keep posting zeroes, while you figure out the other team's pitcher," Bartscher said.
Perhaps that's proof that there's still surprises in the small world of amateur baseball.