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Cadwell Park is an 'intimate atmosphere' for state amateur baseball tourney

For the third straight year, Mitchell's Cadwell Park will take center stage for the Class B state amateur baseball tournament. The 12-day tournament, in its 84th year, will feature 32 Class B teams competing for the state championship and tournam...

For the third straight year, Mitchell's Cadwell Park will take center stage for the Class B state amateur baseball tournament.

The 12-day tournament, in its 84th year, will feature 32 Class B teams competing for the state championship and tournament director Jim Johnston emphasized how important the annual tournament is for the City of Mitchell.

"I think the tournament is a big deal for Mitchell," Johnston said. "It's a neat thing, because it's the biggest fundraiser for Mitchell baseball, a great event for the city and it's also the biggest fundraiser for the Mitchell Exchange Club."

This year marks the third of four straight Class B state tournaments to be played in Mitchell, with the fourth coming next August. The four-year stretch of the tournament being hosted in Mitchell is the longest stretch for any town to host the tournament, since Mitchell hosted the tournament from 1985 to 1991.

The South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association has named Mitchell the hosts for 2017 and 2019 with Sioux Falls getting the tournament in 2018.

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Johnston noted there's no perfect formula that deems the state tournament a success or not, but noted Mitchell embraces its role as tournament hosts with open arms.

"Those of us in Mitchell appreciate the tournament being here and we're gracious hosts," Johnston said. "We treat people right and we're more of a small-town atmosphere than Sioux Falls and I think the fans enjoy that."

Along with friendly hospitality, Johnston said fans and teams can expect an "intimate atmosphere for amateur baseball" at Cadwell Park.

"We've put a lot of money back into the facility every year to make it as nice as we can," Johnston said. "We got new bathrooms, new lights and when people come here, it's a cozy atmosphere."

Those upgrades, along with an emergence of strong local teams, have combined to set SDABA attendance records in the past two years as well as bring in a total of $56,928 in gate receipts in 2015.

"In order to have good crowds, you have to have the right teams win and you have to have good weather," Johnston said. "The emergence of the Sunshine League has really helped us. We used beg to get a couple of wins out of the Sunshine League and all of sudden, two Sunshine League teams were in the championship last year."

Thirteen teams competing in this year's tournaments are within 60 miles of Mitchell and that makes it easy for fans to see their respective teams play. Johnston added teams from the Cornbelt League, the Pony Hills League and South Central League all have strong fan bases that support amateur baseball.

On the field, this year's tournament will be different as the SDABA and South Dakota Umpires Association agreed to supply three umpires for every state tournament game. In the past couple of years, only two umpires have worked state tournament games.

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Johnston applauded the decision to have three umpires work state tournament games.

"I used to umpire, so I understand how important it is to have three umpires out there," Johnston said. "I thought it put the umpires in a difficult situation to ump with just two. To be honest you, things actually went pretty well with just two (umpires). I think teams will be happier with the decision."

With the first game to get underway at 6 p.m. today-a contest between the Harrisburg Woodies and Dimock-Emery Raptors-Johnston said the crew at Cadwell Park has been busy preparing the field and stadium for the start of the tournament.

"We're set to go, we have the same number of people working out here," Johnston said. "It'll just come down to who plays and how the weather is. I think people will find it to be a comfortable atmosphere."

Related Topics: CADWELL PARK
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