ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Alexandria after another state championship

ALEXANDRIA -- For many amateur baseball teams, back-to-back second-place finishes wouldn't be considered a let down. That's not the case for the Alexandria Angels, who won the Class B state championship in 2013 and finished as the runner-up in 20...

ALEXANDRIA - For many amateur baseball teams, back-to-back second-place finishes wouldn't be considered a let down.

That's not the case for the Alexandria Angels, who won the Class B state championship in 2013 and finished as the runner-up in 2014 and 2015.

"In our eyes, I guess it is," Alexandria manager Chris Marek said about consecutive second-place finishes. "There's a little burn or fire to be better at the end of the year this year. There's a determination to overcome our second-place finishes."

Heading into the 2016 season, Alexandria will bring back pretty much the same team it has for the past five years. The group hasn't finished lower than third place in the Sunshine League since re-joining the league in 2011. Along with its three state championship game appearances, Alexandria has made the state tournament every year and won the Sunshine League title in 2013 and 2014.

"We have the same crew back, so everyone's expectations are to put up a fight not only for a district championship but a state championship," Marek said. "That's been our goal for the past couple of years, but with that said, we're all a year older, so we're not sure how that'll play into things."

ADVERTISEMENT

The Angels added former Wessington Springs first baseman Armando Rodriguez to a mostly young roster. Marek said the Angels have their goals set when they take the field for the first time at 8 p.m. on Thursday in Plankinton.

"We're still young enough, we're still striving for a state championship," Marek said. "That's where our mindset is heading into the season."

Alexandria has become a perennial powerhouse in the amateur baseball scene behind stellar starting pitching. Behind the arms of Trever Vermeulen, Tyson Gau, Thomas Gulledge, Jordan Gau, Cory Marek and Chris Marek, the Angels will have plenty of capable players to take the mound.

"It starts with pitching," Marek said. "Quality pitching takes you a long ways."

Vermeulen, a former South Dakota State standout, led the Angels with 12 wins, an ERA of .73 and 123 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings pitched last year. Cory Marek logged the second-most innings pitched for Alexandria, finishing the 2015 season with three wins, a 3.75 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched.

Marek noted Alexandria was without Tyson Gau until the playoffs last year because of an injury. In 2014, Gau had five wins and no losses with 87 strikeouts in 60 innings pitched.

"If we can stay healthy and all our arms stay in good shape, we'll be further ahead in that aspect than last year," Marek said. "We should have our pitching in place to be extremely competitive."

Along with strong starting pitching, Marek believes the Angel offense needs to improve. The Angels scored 212 runs in 30 games in 2015 which was down from 260 runs with the same amount of games in 2014.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I hope we are better offensively this year than last year," Marek said. "We have the potential to be explosive offensively but the consistency has been a downfall at times."

Gulledge led Alexandria with a .358 batting average and was tied for second in RBIs with 19, while Marek led the team with seven home runs and 30 RBIs.

Marek said the team doesn't hold any organized practices, but said most of players on the team work on their own to get prepared for the start of the season. With the start of the season only days away, Marek said both the players and the town of Alexandria are excited.

"Anytime baseball comes around, people are constantly talking about it," Marek said. "We're looking forward to the season."

Related Topics: ALEXANDRIA
What To Read Next
“Women’s athletics at South Dakota State has always been valued and supported,” SDSU women's basketball coach Aaron Johnston said. “We’re lucky to have people that invest in women’s athletics here.”
Members Only
“She's going to help be a leader to develop that sense of family to really make our environment and our culture an enjoyable place,” DWU head coach John Lynch said of Olivia Smith.
Prep basketball action from around the state for Thursday, Jan. 26.
Coyote men fall on buzzer-beater in Macomb