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A team-by-team look at the Class B state field

Thirty-two teams. Single elimination. Twelve days of baseball. The fate of the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Class B Tournament is in the hands of the teams taking the diamond at Ronken Field in Sioux Falls. And per usual, there's a few edu...

Winner/Colome's Kelly O’Bryan fires over to first for an out as Tarell Bauld, 2, watches during a game at Alexandria back in May. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Winner/Colome's Kelly O’Bryan fires over to first for an out as Tarell Bauld, 2, watches during a game at Alexandria back in May. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Thirty-two teams. Single elimination. Twelve days of baseball.

The fate of the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Class B Tournament is in the hands of the teams taking the diamond at Ronken Field in Sioux Falls. And per usual, there's a few educated guesses that can be made about how the bracket will break out once the games begin.

But a quick peek at past year's results shows that even the top teams are susceptible to upsets, making the single-elimination format both thrilling and a bit cruel.

In all, there are 11 new teams in the field that missed out in 2017 making their way to the Augustana University, including one team that didn't play at all a year ago. Here's a short look at the tournament field, in the order of their first-round games:

Chamberlain Mallards

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For the first time in four years, the Mallards from Chamberlain will play in the Class B state tournament, winning in a nail-biting 9-8 contest against South Central on July 25.

Chamberlain finished 7-8 in the Pony Hills League and claimed the last of the four available spots in the state tournament. In the clinching game, Ryan Randall and Ryan Schoenhard each had three hits, while Mike Schwartz had a pair of hits. Schwartz and Zach Zimprich each picked up wins on the mound in the district tournament, with Zimprich going the distance to beat South Central.

Chamberlain opens the Class B tournament with a 5:30 p.m. contest Wednesday against Canova.

Canova Gang

After falling short of the state tournament a season ago, Canova is making a return to the Class B state amateur tournament. The Gang (16-5) defeated Humboldt/Hartford 14-4 on July 26 in the District 4B tournament to secure their spot.

Jared Miller has paced the Gang at the plate, hitting .487 with five home runs, 24 RBIs and 28 runs scored. Derek Miller is hitting .394, with Garrett Gassman hitting .392 with 27 RBIs. The team averages 7.8 runs per game, with Justin Miller (.375) and Trey Krier (.362) also hitting better than .350.

Krier has led the team in innings, tossing 51 innings with 55 strikeouts and a 3.70 ERA with 10 walks allowed. Derek Miller threw 43 2/3 innings with 45 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA.

Ranked fifth in the final amateur poll of the year, Canova will start state play against Chamberlain at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Tabor Bluebirds

A trip to the state tournament has become an annual occurrence for the Tabor Bluebirds, who head to the Class B event as the runner-up from District 6B.

Tabor was 10-6 in South Central League play and used a big rally to get past Wynot, Nebraska, to clinch a state spot in the District 6B semifinals. The Bluebirds came back from a 7-1 hole to top the Expos 11-10 in 10 innings on July 24.

The offensive leaders for Tabor include Chase Kortan, Austin White, Chris Sutera, Hunter Hallock, Jason Humpal and Cole Uecker. Colin Muth and Hallock, respectively, took the ball on the mound in the district semifinals and championship rounds.

Tabor took down Beresford 8-5 in the first round of the 2017 state tournament, before falling 6-0 to Harrisburg. Ranked No. 9 by the amateur baseball poll voters, the Bluebirds take on Colman in the first round of the state tournament, a 7:30 p.m. start on Wednesday.

Colman A's

The Colman A's continued their hot run late in the season all the way to the District 4B championship. Colman lost 10 of its first 14 games but has since rallied to a 10-11 record, as winners of six of their last seven games. Colman's Deon Entringer was named the district tournament MVP following the A's 7-5 win in the championship game over Flandreau on July 28.

It was a bit of a bounce back year for Colman, which was 10-4 in 2017 in the Cornbelt but missed the state tournament. This season, the squad was 6-10 in the Cornbelt but picked up wins over Humboldt/Hartford (3-2) and Dell Rapids PBR (11-5) to reach the championship game.

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Colman will battle Tabor in the first round of the state tournament at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. If both Canova and Colman win their first-round games, the two Cornbelt League teams could meet in the second round Sunday. The Gang swept the A's in two games this season.

Parkston Mudcats

A state tournament regular, the Parkston Mudcats return to the Class B field thanks to a 6-1 win over Platte in the District 5B playoffs on July 26.

Parkston (12-14-1) is powered by Brady Nolz, who has thrown nearly half of the total innings for the Mudcats this season, In 101 2/3 innings, Nolz has logged 133 strikeouts, a 7-3 record and a 2.92 ERA. Dillon Stadlman and Jake Weber each have thrown 35-plus innings, with Weber striking out 25 opponents while allowing just four walks.

Nolz leads the team in hitting with a .364 average and 15 RBIs, leading a pack of eight players batting better than .300. James Boehmer is hitting .345, while Spencer Lucas has a team-best 19 RBIs and is hitting .315. Jeff Harris leads the team with 24 runs scored and 31 base hits, batting .323, and Will Lutjen is hitting .343.

Parkston takes on Vermillion in the opening game on Thursday, the third straight year Parkston has played a State Line League team in the first round, after a 9-3 loss to Harrisburg in 2017. The Mudcats avenged that loss on June 1 this year, a 6-5 win at Ronken Field over the Woodies.

It's the second time in three years the Mudcats and Grey Sox have matched up in the first round of the state tournament, with Parkston blanking Vermillion 5-0 in 2016.

Vermillion Grey Sox

The Grey Sox from Vermillion return to the Class B state tournament for the third straight year, looking to build off their 2017 progress.

Vermillion was 8-5 in State Line League play this season, which was good for the No. 4 seed in the District 7B playoffs. A 4-3 loss to Akron, Iowa, forced Vermillion to face elimination, but the Grey Sox responded with an 8-3 win over the Lennox Reds July 25 to reach the state tournament.

Vermillion's 2017 state tournament included an 11-7 win over Clark, followed by a 21-8 loss to Winner/Colome in the second round. The Grey Sox could see the Winner/Colome again in the second round, if both teams advance.

The Grey Sox open with Parkston at 11 a.m. Thursday in Sioux Falls. The second round could include intra-league contests, with possible Vermillion-Larchwood from the State Line League or Parkston-Winner/Colome from the Sunshine League.

Larchwood (Iowa) Diamonds

A year ago, Larchwood put together a strong run to the state championship game and the Diamonds have shown signs of being able to do it again in 2018.

The Diamonds started the season 11-0 and finished the campaign at 16-6 with a 6-4 loss to Harrisburg in the District 7B championship.

Ace pitcher Patrick Sinnema has 42 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings and a 1.91 ERA. Dylan Whalen has a 3.60 ERA in 20 innings, and as a staff, opponents are hitting .193 against the Diamonds' pitching.

Cody Groskreutz, a former NAIA All-American honorable mention selection for Northwestern, is hitting .538 for the season with 24 RBIs. Micah Linn is hitting .417 with 18 RBIs and a team-best five home runs, while Keaton Grevengoed, Kyle Van Voorst, Mitch Peschon and Taylor Morris all have at least 17 RBIs. The Diamonds are hitting .368 as a team and average 9.2 runs per game.

The fourth-ranked Diamonds - who beat Plankinton, Freeman, Irene and Garretson to reach the championship game last year - fell 4-0 to Alexandria in the title game.

Larchwood's state tournament run will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday against Winner/Colome.

Winner/Colome Pheasants

One team this season has defeated defending state champion Alexandria, and that's Winner/Colome, which has done it twice.

Former Dordt pitcher and current Dakota Wesleyan University pitching coach Connor Hopkins engineered both victories from the mound. Hopkins had 15 strikeouts in a no-hit effort against Alexandria on June 7, a 1-0 win in Winner. He struck out 12 in the Pheasants' District 5B title, a 12-5 victory July 27.

Offensively, the No. 2-ranked Pheasants (20-2) continue to be powered with a talented offense, which includes sluggers Derek Graesser, Austin Richey, Austin Calhoon and Dillon Lambley, along with speedsters Kelly O'Bryan, Reed Harter and Lakin Neugebauer. Tarell Bauld and Graesser have been key arms as well for W/C.

The Pheasants had two losses on the season, falling 3-2 to Dimock-Emery on June 24 and a 12-8 loss to the Angels on May 24 in Alexandria. The season's victories also include a 7-4 win over Flandreau at Ronken Field on July 13.

The Pheasants open the state tournament against Larchwood, Iowa, at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Humboldt/Hartford Gamecocks

After two years on the outside looking in on the state tournament, the Gamecocks of Humboldt/Hartford return to the state tournament.

Jared Donahue came up with a huge pitching performance to help H/H get in on July 27, throwing a no-hitter against Dell Rapids PBR in the District 4B tournament on the Gamecocks' home field. The former Canova and Winner/Colome pitcher struck out 19 PBR batters and issued eight walks in the 8-3 win. Rob Lind added a home run and Danny Flahie had two doubles.

The Gamecocks were 10-6 in the Cornbelt League during the season. H/H battles Milbank at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Sioux Falls for their first-round game.

Milbank Firechiefs

A state tournament regular, the Milbank Firechiefs will join the state tournament field in Sioux Falls once again.

Milbank (9-7) dropped a 3-2 decision to Clark for the District 1B championship but made the state tournament with a 5-0 victory over Clear Lake on July 21.

Firechiefs pitcher Dom Boerger submitted one of the best performances in state history on June 6, when he struck out 24 batters against the Castlewood Monarchs in a 4-2 complete-game victory. (The state record for a nine-inning game is 25.) Boerger, a left-hander, pitches collegiately for Dakota Wesleyan University. For the season, Boerger has 119 strikeouts to 12 walks in 60 innings and a 2.10 ERA. Taylor Boerger has thrown 41 innings with 67 strikeouts of his own.

Lance Frogner is hitting .358 for Milbank with 13 RBIs, while Tristan Hall has a .425 average. Tony Hofman and Bryan Appl each have driven in 10 runs.

The Firechiefs take on Humboldt/Hartford at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round. A year ago, Milbank was ousted in the opening round in a 4-0 loss to Freeman.

Miller/Wessington Outlaws

Miller/Wessington returns to the Class B state bracket for a second straight season, qualifying with a 9-10 record as the District 3B runner-up.

The Outlaws had a memorable 17-inning victory over top-seeded Four Corners on July 22 to lock up the state trip, winning 6-5. Plankinton took down Miller/Wessington 3-1 in the district title game on July 26.

Cody Cotton and Casey Schlechter are the two primary pitchers for the Outlaws, throwing 75 percent of the team's innings on the mound this year. Cotton has 77 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings with a 2.16 ERA, while Schlechter has thrown 59 1/3 innings with 46 strikeouts and 3.34 ERA.

Schlechter leads the team with 12 RBIs, while Jay Winter has 14 runs scored. Brant Winter has a .341 average at the plate.

Miller/Wessington takes on Northville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the tournament. The Outlaws were in the 2017 bracket, falling 4-3 to Lake Norden in the opening round.

Northville Merchants

Northville clinched its fifth straight state tournament appearance, claiming one of the two available spots out of the Northern Plains League.

The Merchants earned a 5-4 win over Redfield for the state spot, and then followed that up with a 10-5 win over Groton for the District 2B championship.

Northville fell 13-5 to Irene in the opening round of the 2017 state tournament. The Merchants take on Miller/Wessington at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Volga Cormorants

Volga is back in the Class B tournament after a one-year hiatus, last playing in the 2016 event. The Cormorants claimed one of the four available spots out of the Eastern Dakota League.

Volga (11-10) reached the state tournament with a 2-1 weekend at the District 1B tournament July 20-22. That included a 6-2 win over the Castlewood Monarchs, a 4-1 loss to Clark and a 6-4 win over Lake Norden to seal the berth.

Zach Puetz paced Volga's offense in the district round, picking up six hits. Cole Gross drove in three runs and Jake Arlt and Chase Ringheimer each had home runs. Gross and Austin Chase each had pitching victories.

The Cormorants take on Akron, Iowa, in the lead-off game Friday.

Akron (Iowa) Rebels

After two tough seasons, the Akron Rebels are back in the state tournament field. The Rebels made the Class B semifinals in 2015, but had a pair of sub-.500 State Line League seasons in 2016 and 2017 that kept the Rebels at bay.

This season, Akron boasted one of the league's high-scoring offenses, scoring 8.07 runs per game in 14 league games, in which the Rebels were 8-6.

Akron had an impressive win over Larchwood on July 6 in a 13-6 decision, which was the Diamonds' second loss of the year at that point. The Rebels also beat Garretson twice this season in league play.

Akron will face Volga at 11 a.m. Friday in Sioux Falls to open state play.

Garretson Bluejays

After back-to-back seasons with runs to the Class B final four, Garretson has shown it has the ability to make the state tournament's best. This year, No. 7-ranked Garretson is 12-7 and made the tournament after falling in the District 7B semifinals.

Dustin Steckler led Garretson at the plate with a .379 batting average, with Brett Fischer right behind at .368. Nick Bonte has knocked in 18 runs and hit three home runs, hitting at .323 clip.

On the mound, Derek Fischer leads Garretson in innings pitched with 35, allowing a 2.31 ERA with 45 strikeouts. Patrick Whetham has been stifling opposing batters with a 0.30 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. Steckler and Bonte each have thrown 23 1/3 innings and have combined to record 52 strikeouts. As a whole, opponents hit .163 against the Bluejays during the regular season.

Garretson was 8-5 in State Line games this season, a league which had three of the four state semifinalists last season. The Bluejays won three games at state last year, topping Wynot, Lake Norden and Winner/Colome. Larchwood bested Garretson in the 2017 state semifinals 3-2.

Garretson battles Menno at 1 p.m. Friday in the first round.

Menno Mad Frogs

After falling short of qualifying for state in 2017, the Menno Mad Frogs sent 11 players to the tournament as pick-up players. In 2018, the Mad Frogs eliminated any doubt and qualified for the state tournament as the champions from District 6B.

After a 12-4 run through league play, top-seeded Menno (15-8) scored 47 runs in three games, including 20 runs in an opening-round win over Scotland. A 10-6 victory over Tabor in the district championship July 28 sealed the team's second title in three seasons.

The team was paced by Macon Oplinger, who had five home runs in the three-game span. Pitchers Doug Hall and Tom Sattler have helped to lead the Mad Frogs back to the state tournament.

Menno, which was sixth in the final amateur poll, will battle No. 7 Garretson in the opening round of the state tournament, a 1 p.m. tussle Friday at Ronken Field.

Clear Lake Slough Sharks

Clear Lake will be making its first state tournament appearance since 2014, thanks to a solid performance at the District 1B tournament. The tournament included a 17-4 win over Lake Norden, a 5-0 loss to Milbank and a 9-4 win over Castlewood on July 22.

Tate Pope was 5-for-11 with six RBIs, a home run and five runs scored, while Matt Larson was 6-for-13 batting in three games, driving in a pair of runs. Trevor Cassels had four RBIs and Cooper Gates scored four runs. Justin Larson had four runs scored and knocked in three runs.

On the mound, Matt Larson had a complete game victory with 16 strikeouts. Justin Larson and Brandon Longstreet were the other starters at the district tournament, with Longstreet earning the win.

Clear Lake will play Lennox Only One at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the opening round.

Lennox Only One

After a two-year hiatus in which it didn't have a team, Lennox Only One is back on the diamond and back in the state tournament. The team folded prior to the 2016 season but returned to the Cornbelt League this season.

Lennox won a pair of tightly contested games on back-to-back days to get into the state tournament. On July 27, Lennox defeated Salem in an elimination game, 6-5, but only after Salem scored five runs in the ninth inning. The next day, in the District 4B last-chance game, Drew Sweeter picked up the complete-game victory in a 4-2 win over Dell Rapids PBR to get to Sioux Falls.

Lennox, which was 5-11 in the regular season in Cornbelt play, was one of the beneficiaries of some upsets in the District 4B tournament. Dell Rapids PBR and Salem defeated the second-seeded Dell Rapids Mudcats on back-to-back nights to eliminate the Mudcats from state contention.

Lennox will play Clear Lake at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Corsica/Stickney Horned Frogs

For just the second time under the Horned Frogs banner, Corsica/Stickney is making a trip to the state tournament. The Horned Frogs (10-10) last qualified in 2014.

Corsica/Stickney used the District 5B last-chance game against rival Platte to get into the tournament, winning the contest 6-4 on the Killer Tomatoes' home field July 27.

The Horned Frogs are led by Aaron Groeneweg, who is hitting .422 on the season with five home runs and 23 RBIs, while throwing 54 1/3 innings with 44 strikeouts and a 2.32 ERA. Nathan Blom has pitched nearly 40 innings and has 26 strikeouts and Kris Menning has 32 1/3 innings pitched with a 2.78 ERA.

Other leading offensive players include Logan Risse (.313 / 21 RBIs), Nathan Blom (.304) and Luke Bamberg (.291 / 19 RBIs, 21 runs scored). C/S has shown a propensity to score in bunches, playing in eight games this season in which they've scored nine or more runs, including a 29-13 win at Dimock/Emery on June 14.

Corsica/Stickney will play District 7B champion Harrisburg at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Harrisburg Woodies

Harrisburg (16-4) return to the state tournament again this season after winning the District 7B championship for the first time. The Woodies have been red hot for much of the last two months. After starting 1-3 with losses to the Vermillion Grey Sox, Parkston and Larchwood, Harrisburg has won 15 of the following 16 games.

The other loss came in Harrisburg previous outing at Ronken Field this season, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Class A Sioux Falls Squirrels on June 22.

Statistically, Mark Abrahamson hit .375 for Harrisburg this season, driving in a team-best 17 runs. Drew Andela hit .325, and Brody Kunzman had a .315 average with 14 RBIs.

Aaron LaBrie has led the way on the mound with a 4-0 mark in 34 1/3 innings with 84 strikeouts and a 2.62 ERA. He had 21 strikeouts in a 12-2, seven-inning win over Vermillion on June 13. Like LaBrie, Dalton Allen is also 4-0 on the season with a 0.58 ERA last season. As a team, opponents are hitting .169 against Harrisburg this season.

Last year, Harrisburg made a run to the state semifinals before falling to Alexandria 1-0 in a memorable late-night game at Cadwell Park. Third-ranked Harrisburg opens with Corsica/Stickney at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Wynot (Neb.) Expos

A win in the District 6B last-chance game made certain that Wynot, Nebraska, would return to the Class B state amateur baseball tournament again.

The Expos pounded Freeman 9-0 on July 28 to assure that all four non-South Dakota teams playing amateur baseball in the state made the season-ending 32-team event. Jackson Sudbeck had a complete-game, five-hitter, striking out six for the Expos.

Wynot was 11-5 in South Central League play, carrying the No. 2 seed into the district tournament. But losses to Tabor and Crofton forced Wynot to the last-chance game to earn a slot.

Wynot bowed out of the state tournament in the first round in 2017, falling 5-4 to Garretson at Cadwell Park. The Expos take on a fellow blue-and-red team-Madison-at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Madison Broncos

Entering the district playoffs on a five-game losing streak, Madison (13-9) turned things around just in time to reach the Class B state tournament. The Broncos lost 3-2 in 10 innings to Flandreau, before outscoring their next two opponents (Lennox and Dell Rapids PBR) by a combined 24-0 to qualify for the big tournament.

Matt Burpee again leads Madison in hitting at .459 with 28 hits, three home runs and 18 RBIs. Jacob Giles is hitting .329, while Heith Williams is a .303 hitter for the Broncos. Greg Biagi has driven in a team-best 26 runs and has three homers.

On the hill, Brock Selgestad has thrown 56 2/3 innings with an ERA of 1.75 for the season and 61 strikeouts. Hunter Jamison has thrown 53 innings with four wins and an ERA of 4.58.

Madison made a run to the quarterfinals in 2017, defeating Lesterville 3-0 in the opening round, followed by a 6-3 win over Madison, before eventually falling to Alexandria 12-2.

The Broncos again open with a South Central League opponent this year, meeting Wynot, Nebraska, at 11 a.m. Saturday in their opening-round game.

Lesterville Broncs

Lesterville is back in the Class B tournament for the second straight year, reaching the state tournament via a 7-4 win over Freeman in the District 6B playoffs.

Lesterville was 8-8 in the regular season and the No. 5 seed heading into the district tournament, but the Broncs' win assured the top-five seeds all advanced to the state tournament.

The Broncs will be occupied with District 3B champion Plankinton at 1 p.m. Saturday, but if Madison and Lesterville both win their first-round games, they could meet on Aug. 7 in the second round. Madison won a first-round duel with Lesterville in 2017 by a 3-0 margin.

Plankinton Bankers

In the state tournament for the sixth straight season, the Plankinton Bankers won the District 3B title for the second straight year. They topped Miller/Wessington 3-1 July 26 in Chamberlain for the district title, capping a five-game win streak to end the regular season.

Tyler Waddle leads the Bankers (14-6) in batting average with a .341 mark and 14 RBIs, while Trevor Salmonson is hitting .338 with 12 RBIs and 13 runs scored. Chris Hill leads the team in RBIs with 19 RBIs and 22 runs scored, while batting .271, while Ryan Urban is hitting .297.

Josh Engquist and Travis Gant have pitched the majority of Plankinton's innings this season, with Engquist sporting an 8-1 record with 72 innings pitched, striking out 108 batters and walking 25 with a 1.63 ERA. Gant has tossed 64 1/3 innings with a 0.98 ERA and 85 strikeouts to 14 walks.

Plankinton was held in check during their 2017 state tournament opener, falling 6-2 to eventual state finalist Larchwood. The Bankers will take on Lesterville at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Crofton (Neb.) Bluejays

Crofton had to battle to get back, but the Bluejays are once again in the Class B state tournament.

Crofton clinched its spot in the state tournament with a 20-11 victory over fellow out-of-state club Wynot, Nebraska, in the District 6B playoffs. The Bluejays saw their offense come alive in the district tournament, with a 12-1 elimination-game win over Scotland after a 3-2 opening-round loss against Lesterville. Crofton was 8-8 during South Central League play during the regular season.

The Bluejays reached the state quarterfinals in the 2017 tournament, earning wins over Salem and the Dell Rapids Mudcats before falling to Harrisburg 6-1. But Crofton's state experience will be put to the test from the start in a 5:30 p.m. Saturday contest against Alexandria.

Alexandria Angels

The two-time defending state champions, the Alexandria Angels enter another Class B tournament as the favorites once again, sporting a 17-2 record.

The No. 1-ranked Angels won the Sunshine League with a 13-1 mark, but were upended by Winner/Colome 12-5 in the District 5B championship game on July 27 in Platte. The Pheasants provided Alexandria's other loss on the year, a 1-0 loss in Winner on June 7.

And given the recent history between Alexandria and the Pheasants, it's worth pointing out that the two teams met in the last Class B title game in Sioux Falls. Alexandria claimed the first of its three championships in the last five years in 2013, a 4-3 win over Winner/Colome at Sioux Falls Stadium.

The Angels' offense remains high-powered, averaging 9.3 runs per game with an offense hitting at .317 rate and a .427 team on-base percentage. On the other side of the ball, Alexandria has a team ERA of 2.82, with 175 strikeouts compared to 44 walks in 150 innings, and opponents are hitting .223 against the Angels' staff.

There's also some state history at stake for the Angels. Alexandria has a chance to be the first Class B team to win three straight state champions since Dell Rapids PBR did it from 1996 to 1998. Another state title would be Alexandria's fourth in six years, rivaled by PBR's five titles in seven years between 1996 and 2002.

Alexandria will face Crofton, Nebraska, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Groton Locke Electric

One of the state's tradition-rich amateur baseball teams, Groton Locke Electric is back in the state tournament in 2018. Groton missed the 2017 edition after making four straight appearances prior.

Groton edged out the Redfield Pheasants to claim one of the Northern Plains League's two state-qualifying slots. The team is led offensively by Tyler Oliver, Spencer Locke, Adam Herman, Evan Erickson, Carlos Camacho, Heath Giedt and Mitch Locke. Austin Fordham and Seth Erickson have paced the pitching staff for Groton.
Groton will take on Clark in its opening-round game, a 7:30 p.m. Saturday contest in Sioux Falls.

Clark Traders

Clark continued to dominate the District 1B field again in 2018, claiming the district title for the sixth straight season. The Traders won the six-team tournament with a 4-1 win over Volga and a 3-2 win over Milbank on July 21 and 22.

Lane Hovde has been important for the Traders at the plate, hitting .619 in league contests this year with 12 runs scored. Kyle Braun is hitting .375 with 11 RBIs, while Luke Whalen (.375), Jesse VanOverbecke (.333) and Bryce DesLauriers (.323) are also hitting above .300.

Zach Toben has thrown 31 innings for Clark, boasting a 1.74 ERA with 22 strikeouts, while Andrew Wegner had 23 innings and a 4.69 ERA in league contests.

Clark bowed out in the first round of the state tournament in 2017, with an 11-7 loss to Vermillion. This year, the Traders will take on Groton in the Saturday nightcap at Ronken Field in the first round.

Canton Aces

For the second straight season, the Canton Aces found the right time of the year to get into state tournament form.

In 2017, Canton was 5-11 in State Line League play but managed to get into the state tournament. The Aces took advantage from there, defeating Platte 3-0, before advancing to the second round and getting knocked out by Alexandria.

Canton was just 3-11 in State Line League play this season, averaging just 2.7 runs per game in league action. After a loss sent Canton to the elimination round, the Aces responded with an 11-1 win over Alcester Zips on July 25.

The Aces will take on a Sunshine League foe for the third straight postseason game in the last two postseasons. This time around, Canton faces Dimock-Emery at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Dimock/Emery Raptors

The Raptors (15-11) qualified for the state tournament for the 12th straight year, once again rounding into form late in the season. The Raptors closed the regular season with wins in seven of their last eight games. An 18-12 win over Corsica/Stickney clinched the state berth in the District 5B tournament on July 26.

Through 22 games, Jared Schmidt was the team's leading hitter, batting .425 with 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored. Jason Schmidt had a team-best seven home runs with 31 runs scored and a .396 batting average. Phil Johnson (.355, five home runs, 21 RBIs) and Doug Sudbeck (.350) are also among the top offensive players.

Johnson remains the team's ace, throwing 51 2/3 innings with 54 strikeouts through 22 games. Jared Schmidt had an ERA of 2.36 in 34 1/3 innings. The team has also had the boost of adding Jed Schmidt, who plays his collegiate games at Ronken Field with Augustana. The Raptors played at Ronken Field June 19, falling 5-3 to Class A powerhouse Sioux Falls Brewers.

Dimock/Emery, ranked 10th in the final Class B amateur poll, takes on Canton at 11 a.m. Sunday in the final day of opening-round play. The Raptors bowed out in the 2017 state opener to the Dell Rapids Mudcats 4-2.

Four Corners

A stalwart from the Pony Hills League, Four Corners returns to the Class B state tournament for the fourth season in a row.

The Hayes-based club was the No. 1 seed in the District 3B tournament but bowed out of the winner's bracket early, with a 17-inning loss to Miller/Wessington in the opening round. Four Corners locked up the state tournament berth by bouncing back in an elimination game against Kimball/White Lake with a 12-6 victory in which Justin Lester had four RBIs.

Four Corners was 11-4 in the regular season in the Pony Hills but won all three matchups against eventual-district champion Plankinton.

Much like this year's tournament, Four Corners played in the final opening-round game in 2017, defeating the Castlewood Monarchs 12-1 in seven innings, before falling 6-3 to Madison in the second round.

Four Corners will play in the final first-round game at 1 p.m. Sunday against Flandreau.

Flandreau Cardinals

Flandreau qualified for the Class B state tournament for the sixth consecutive season with a 9-0 win over Canova in the semifinals of the District 4B tournament on July 24.

The Cardinals finished second in the tournament after a 7-5 loss to Colman in the championship game. Flandreau went 10-6 in the Cornbelt League standings, tying for third place during the regular season.

Flandreau has picked up a key boost from Jared Campbell, a member of Augustana's national championship winning team. He drove in all three runs for the Cardinals in their district win over Madison in 10 innings. Bret Severtson threw eight shutout innings in the win over Canova.

In the 2017 tournament in Mitchell, Flandreau took on Alexandria in the first round and lost 8-1. This year, the Cardinals will open the state tournament against Four Corners at 1 p.m. The teams are 243 miles apart, the furthest distance between any two teams playing each other in the first round.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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Prep basketball action from around the state for Tuesday, Jan. 31.
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Ethan defeats SB/W 64-27 girls and 60-38 boys.