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Post 18 hopes to maintain momentum into summer

Mitchell Post 18 brings experience and momentum into the Legion baseball season. It's coming off a runner-up finish at the Class A state tournament on Saturday to cap a 22-7 spring season. And with only two days off between seasons, Mitchell coac...

Mitchell's Calvin Hegg goes for the ball as Brandon Valley's Will Brown slides into third base during a Class A semifinal game on Saturday at Sioux Falls Stadium. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)
Mitchell's Calvin Hegg goes for the ball as Brandon Valley's Will Brown slides into third base during a Class A semifinal game on Saturday at Sioux Falls Stadium. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)
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Mitchell Post 18 brings experience and momentum into the Legion baseball season.

It’s coming off a runner-up finish at the Class A state tournament on Saturday to cap a 22-7 spring season. And with only two days off between seasons, Mitchell coach Luke Norden hopes it can use that momentum to start the summer strong.

Post 18 split a doubleheader at Watertown on Tuesday. It hosts Brandon Valley for a 5 p.m. doubleheader today.

“I think we always have a little bit of momentum heading into the (Legion) season,” Norden said. “You really don’t know what to expect. Hopefully we come out and start the season out on a great note. Hopefully we leave right where we left off and continue to pitch the ball really well.”

Mitchell returns nearly its entire team, so Norden expects “quality from everywhere,” given its experience. However, it will have to find replacements for graduated shortstop Drew Kitchens and third baseman Austin Kerr, who is likely out for the season after having shoulder surgery.

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Norden expects newly-added Brady Hawkins and Calvin Hegg to split time between shortstop and third base. Hawkins also adds extra power into the lineup as he started the season batting fifth behind Carson Max.

“You put Brady in our lineup, and you get a little bit of extra-base power, which will be really good for us this summer,” Norden said. “Putting him in there with Carson Max will be really good for us power-wise.”

On the mound, Post 18 will have to adapt to facing metal bats compared to wooden bats, which it found success against in the spring. It sported a 2.39 team ERA in the spring, and returns four of the five pitchers who threw at least 19 innings. Jared Miller owned a 2.21 ERA in a team-high 31 2/3 innings.

With more games than during the spring -- and tournaments in Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska -- there will be an emphasis on pitching out of jams to save its bullpen.

“We’re going to need guys to be able to stay out there and record outs for us,” Norden said. “We don’t have the capability to get a relief pitcher in there as much as we can during the spring season.”

Despite traveling to three out-of-state tournaments, Mitchell has a “really favorable schedule,” per Norden. In fact, between June 12 to 27, 13 of its 16 games are at Cadwell Park.

It’s partly due to teams wanting to play at Cadwell prior to the state tournament, which Mitchell hosts on July 26-30. Post 18 isn’t allowed to play in the region tournament, so it will have a week off after its regular-season finale against Lennox on July 18. It won’t schedule any games during that week as some players will be umpires at the South Dakota A Baseball State Youth Tournament in Mitchell.

Still, Norden thinks not having to travel for state will help, noting how Mitchell played the Region 3A tournament in Sturgis and state in Pierre last season. Post 18 has finished second in back-to-back seasons.

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“We want the expectation to be that we’re going to be one of the top teams at the end of the year,” Norden said. “And that’s been good to see the last couple of years.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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