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Weather forces SDHSBA to make changes to scheduling format

Bryce Holter has been around baseball in South Dakota since 1991, but he has never seen weather haunt a season more than this year. Holter, who coaches the Hanson County spring team, said weather the past two weeks has made it impossible to get a...

Zach Scott
Parkston's Zach Soctt throws a pitch during a high school game last season in Corsica. (Republic file photo)

Bryce Holter has been around baseball in South Dakota since 1991, but he has never seen weather haunt a season more than this year.

Holter, who coaches the Hanson County spring team, said weather the past two weeks has made it impossible to get anything done on the field. Holter and several other coaches from the area believe this is the worst season in terms of having inclement weather postpone and cancel games he can ever remember.

"It's pretty tough, but there is nothing you can really do," he said. "We are going to try to play doubleheaders just to get the games against our region opponents, so that we can get in our neccesary games."

It's not just Hanson County struggling with postponements and cancelations. Several teams are struggling to get games in. Local teams such as Platte-Geddes/Dakota Christian/White Lake, Hanson County, Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Woonsocket, Parkston and Bon Homme/Scotland have all played three or less games so far this season, which started at the beginning of the month. Last year by this time, each of those teams had about seven games in.

Last week, the South Dakota High School Baseball Association unanimously voted to change its scheduling policy because of all the poor weather. Typically, each team must play everyone within their own division twice -- usually home and away -- and play each team in their connecting region once each.

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With the change last week, Class B teams will not be required to play the teams in the connecting region if it is necessary to cancel a date to make room for a divisional game that was postponed or has not been played.

Hanson County (0-2) plays in Class B and is scheduled to play Vermillion and Wagner/Avon/Lake Andes this week. The team missed four games over the past two weeks because of the inclement weather. Holter is hoping his team can play both of its games this week and believes the contest against Wagner/Avon/Lake Andes, which is in its division, will become a doubleheader. He is also hoping to play a doubleheader against Mount Vernon/Plankinton/

Woonsocket, another divisional opponent, soon.

Because Hanson County is likely switching the divisional games to doubleheaders this week, the team would have all of its required games completed. With the recent rule change for this season in Class B, Hanson County would not be required to make up its games against all the teams in its connecting region.

PGDCWL coach Jeff Kuiper, who has been coaching high school since 2003, said this is what he expects during the spring in South Dakota.

"You always reschedule games," he said. "It's spring ball, and it's what I tell the kids to expect."

PGDCWL has played one game this season, a 2-0 loss to St. Thomas Moore April 7.

Bon Homme/Scotland coach Gary Kortan agreed with Holter, saying this is by far the worst spring weather he has seen.

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Bon Homme/Scotland (1-1) has played two games since starting its season April 4 with a win against Wagner/Avon/Lake Andes.

"Even the days you don't have games you can't get outdoors," Kortan said. "You never get outside. We've had two games and we've had probably two real practices."

Holter said there have been discussions among the SDHSBA and its coaches about pushing the season back because of all the time that's been lost due to bad field conditions this season. As it sits now, the season is scheduled to conclude Memorial Day weekend, with the Class A state tournament held on Saturday and the Class B tournament on Monday. Despite several attempts to reach SDHSBA President Brad Schramm, a Winner native, he did not respond to messages left by The Daily Republic to discuss lengthening the season.

"I don't think they'll (extend the season) unless they absolutely have to," said Parkston coach Tim Alley, who agrees the season needs to be extended two weeks. "A lot of coaches say that if we're going to continue with high school baseball, we've got to change the season. I don't know if it will happen, but it's been talked about."

Parkston is 3-0 on the year and has had three games postponed or canceled because of weather.

For Class A baseball, which includes Mitchell and other larger towns in the state, the board the board unanimously voted that any team that is already scheduled to play a Class A opponent may make the game a doubleheader for the purposes of getting into close to 30 games.

Thirty games is the maximum amount of games that a team can play in a spring high school season. The reason that teams want to get as close to 30 games as possible is because the two teams that do not win their regional tournament, but have the most wins against Class A opponents, are allowed to play in a wild-card game for the final berth in the state tournament.

The SDHSBA also said Class A teams may not schedule a new contest.

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"We have our last region game scheduled for May 12, and you can technically play region games up to the region tournament, which is the May 18," Mitchell baseball coach Luke Norden said. "But most teams don't really want to play that last week before the region tournament, because you don't want to use any of your pitchers that close to the tournament."

Norden's squad has played four games and was scheduled to play today and Tuesday. Norden said the next time he's confident his players will take the field will be Saturday in a regional game against Rapid City Central. If the Kernels play Saturday, it will be exactly three weeks since the last time they've played.

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