Jun. 14—HUMBOLDT, S.D. — It's been a question for years.
What's the best amateur baseball league in South Dakota? This weekend, two of the top contenders will stake a claim to solving that very question.
The inaugural Cornbelt-Sunshine Showdown is set to begin on Friday, June 17 and run through Sunday, June 19, with 10 games to be played at Bob Needles Field in Humboldt. In the process, teams from two of the top baseball leagues in Class B are likely to provide competitive games midway through the season.
Jacob Ellis, who is the manager of the Hartford/Humboldt Wood Ducks, said the event gives the opportunity to fans to come out to Humboldt to enjoy three days of high-level baseball between what he called the two best amateur baseball leagues in South Dakota.
"The Cornbelt teams believe that they're the best and most competitive, so with us believing Sunshine is not too far behind, we just wanted to put something together where we can go head-to-head, bring some fans out and have everyone enjoy some good baseball," Ellis said.
The tournament came about after Cornbelt League President Chad Riley suggested the idea of a midseason showcase event during the preseason Cornbelt meeting. Riley had the idea that for the inaugural year of the showdown, Humboldt would make sense as a host site, given it's centrally located and has been renovated with a new turf infield and outfield wood fence.
Given that the Sunshine League only has seven teams, Crofton (Neb.), Larchwood (Iowa), and Wynot (Neb.) — all three regular state tournament contenders — will play on the Sunshine side of the event to make for an even 20 teams playing 10 games.
Friday's slate opens with Corsica/Stickney and Salem at 6 p.m., followed by Winner/Colome and Canova at 8 p.m.
After all 10 games are played, the winning league will be awarded a traveling trophy that will go to the league that wins the largest share of the games played.
Since this year's showdown will be hosted by a team apart from the Cornbelt, a Sunshine league team will host the event next year, with Parkston tentatively set to do so in 2023. The host would then alternate annually from there.
Among the other notable matchups includes Dimock/Emery against Colman at noon on Sunday, June 19, followed by Parkston and Lennox at 2:30 p.m., Alexandria and Dell Rapids Mudcats at 5 p.m., and Flandreau and Mount Vernon at 7:30 p.m.
The Mudcats are the defending Class B champions, while Alexandria has won five of the last nine state titles in Class B.
"There's going to be matchups in this event between some perennial teams that are continuously in the semifinals or state championship games every year," Ellis said. "Dell Rapids Mudcats won last year and the Alexandria Angels are always a team making a push at the end, so that's the game I'm personally looking forward to most."