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Patience at the plate leads to hot start for Canova

Canova has not missed a beat. The Gang has picked up where they left off after winning the Class B state amateur baseball championship last summer, racing off to a 12-2 start, including going 10-0 in Cornbelt League play.

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Canova's Jared Miller makes a throw to first base to complete a double play as Salem's Kohl Miller slides into second base on Wednesday in Canova. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

CANOVA -- Canova has not missed a beat.

The Gang has picked up where they left off after winning the Class B state amateur baseball championship last summer, racing off to a 12-2 start, including going 10-0 in Cornbelt League play.

One of the biggest reasons for the continued success has been an explosive offense that has averaged 11.4 runs per game and has scored at least 10 runs in 10 games thus far. Canova even scored eight runs each in its two losses.

“It relaxes our pitching and allows our defense to play a little easier, instead of every play being a dominant play,” Canova manager Dave Gassman said. “Sometimes you make an error, but you can say, ‘We’ll make it up and still play through this.’ Scoring runs is still the name of the game and that’s how you win.”

The offensive output has been a group effort for Canova as well, with eight players hitting at least .300 and four players with an average better than .400.

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Justin Miller has gotten off to a torrid start, hitting .500 with a .600 on-base percentage in 60 plate appearances, while Jared Miller has hit .455 to go along with a team-best 21 RBIs. Garrett Gassman and Gavin Gassman are also hitting .446 and .444, respectively.

“It’s a heck of an advantage,” Dave Gassman said. “This is probably one of the better hitting teams with speed that we’ve ever had. We’ve had some good teams, don’t get me wrong, but this is one of the better ones. We’ve got a lot of speed with our hitting, which makes a difference.”

The Gang is not just hitting for average, though, as they have also shown the ability to hit for power and have also shown patience in drawing walks. Canova has belted 10 home runs -- Justin Miller, Cole Gassman, Derek Miller and Jason Miller all have two apiece -- while also drawing 68 walks as a team.

A cerebral approach at the plate has made the Gang dangerous each time they step into the batter’s box and Dave Gassman believes that comes from having a number of former collegiate players such as Justin, Jared and Derek Miller (Mount Marty), Garrett Gassman (Dakota State) and Cole Gassman (Dakota Wesleyan).

“We have quite a few kids that have played college ball,” Gassman said. “I think, because we do, that reinforces a lot of that stuff. So, it’s been a big benefit to us to have that knowledge at the plate. Hitting is not how you swing the bat, it’s when you swing the bat. Swing at high pitches, you’re going to pop it up a lot. Swing at low pitches, you’ll ground it out a lot. The one around the belt, that’s the one you want to hit.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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