Spring baseball is finally in the air again.
After its 2020 season was canceled due to COVD-19, the Mitchell High School baseball team is back on the diamond for the spring season. The 2020 American Legion season was salvaged, but players were still left without its other season.
“I think the best part about the spring season is the amount of practice time we get,” Mitchell coach Luke Norden said. “You get to the summer season and you’ve got some practice time here or there, but the weeks and the weekends all kind of blend together just because you’ve got so many games and you have your off days and whatnot. The one thing we really missed out a lot of last year was just that practice time in that spring season.”
The Kernels have been making up for the lost time. Mitchell has had a handful of players throwing and lifting during the winter, while others have gradually gotten into the swing of things the past few weeks and months.
“Some guys have been at it for a month now and some guys just got done with basketball and have been at it for a couple of weeks,” Norden said. “We’ve got guys at different spots, but for the most part, the majority of the guys have been out for three weeks or so, which is great.”
The Kernels’ pitching staff will be highlighted by Jake Helleloid, Ethan Price, Jonah Schmidt, Landon Wadell, Jace Larson, Dylan Soulek and Jackson Ebert.
During the American Legion season, Helleloid, Price and Schmidt logged 23 or more innings on the mound for Post 18.
“We are going to have a lot of innings on the mound that we are going to have to replace from last year, both at starting roles and relieving roles,” Norden said. “So we are just trying to get as many guys on the mound as possible to get looks and get guys comfortable on the mound is obviously the biggest thing you go through early in the spring.”
Offensively, Schmidt batted .414 and racked up 20 RBIs for Post 18. Joe VanOverschelde (.295/14 RBIs) and Helleloid (.278/8 RBIs) are both expected to add pop to the lineup.
“We are going to rely on the returning guys to kind of carry the load as far as having productive at-bats and teaching the younger guys what it is about to have productive at-bats and not required to get a hit every time,” Norden said. “There’s other ways to get on base and be productive in the batter’s box.”
But Norden isn’t sure right now what kind of offensive team the Kernels will be and it could depend on the game.
“Some games might be a small ball team,” Norden said. “Some games we might rely on a little bit of power and some games we might rely on a little bit of speed and stealing bases.”
The Kernels will host Yankton in a 1 p.m. doubleheader on April 5 at Cadwell Park. Monday’s weather is expected to be in the upper-70s, making for an optimistic opener so early in the season.
“If the forecast holds, I can’t think of the last time we played a season opener in such nice weather,” Norden said.