Soulek, Mandel brothers embracing opportunities to share diamond
“Over 20 years I’ve … very rarely had siblings of different ages be able to play (together),” coach Luke Norden said. “So it's kind of special to be able to do something like that with a sibling.”
MITCHELL — Dylan Soulek can remember the days of pretending to turn double plays in the front yard with his younger brother, Landen.
Now the duo has transitioned from the front yard to Cadwell Park, turning two together as one of two duos of brothers for the Mitchell High School baseball team.
On top of the Souleks, another set of brothers — Peyton and Parker Mandel — are fixtures in coach Luke Norden’s lineup.
“Over 20 years now I’ve … very rarely had siblings of different ages be able to play (together),” Norden said. “So it's kind of special to be able to do something like that with a sibling.”
There's a two-year age difference between the Souleks, with Dylan in his senior campaign and Landen in first year on varsity as a sophomore. Given the gap, the pair didn’t get to be on the same team much growing up, and since they were both playing, they didn’t have the chance to watch the other play much either.
Norden said the duo takes pride in their defense, and their bond as brothers makes them probably a little harder on each other than most middle infield duos would be. Dylan harkened back to a moment this season when the pair was trying to turn a double play, referencing the two perhaps being harder on each other than is typical.
“The other night, Landen was on second base. I got a ground ball hit me and I threw it to him and I threw it a little bit to the left,” Dylan recalled. “He maybe could have gotten off a throw that I thought maybe he could have done. But I kind of got after him a little bit after that.”
Of course, Landen had a rebuttal.
“I got after him after that. It’s just back and forth all the time,” Landen said, noting the back and forth is all love between the pair.
The chemistry has made the transition to a new double-play partner this “awesome,” Dylan said.
As for the Mandels — Peyton, a junior, and Parker, a sophomore — they said there’s a friendly competition dynamic, but what it looks like varies from game to game. They added, though, that having a brother on the team definitely comes with its perks.
“Just knowing you can trust the guys next to you, especially if it’s your own blood,” Peyton said.
“I enjoy it quite a bit,” Parker added about getting to play with his brother.
In the first game of a doubleheader against Sioux Falls Jefferson on Tuesday, April 25, Norden trotted out four infielders that had a combined two last names, with the Peyton Mandel at third, Dylan Soulek at shortstop, Landen Soulek at second and Parker Mandel at first — making up an infield with two duos of brothers, something none of them had experienced before.
“It’s super special,” Landen said. “Definitely going to look forward to this year a lot and make the most out of it.”
For the Souleks, though, getting the chance to team up together in the middle infield for Dylan’s final season is a dream come true.
“I was hoping it would turn out this way a little bit, being able to share the middle with my little brother,” Dylan said. “It’s something we've always dreamed of doing. So it's definitely pretty cool.”