May 28—Three area baseball teams are set to vie for the South Dakota High School Baseball Association Class B state championship.
The tournament begins Monday, with the semifinals and championship game to be held Tuesday at Sioux Falls Stadium.
Here is a look at each team:
Howard puts unbeaten record on the line
Howard enters as the lone unbeaten team in Class B and is 2-0 against teams in the state tournament. The 13-0 Tigers have won four games decided by one run and they will receive a stiff test from Vermillion (15-6) at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Four Howard players are hitting better than .300 this season, led by Riley Genzlinger, who is hitting .381 with nine RBIs and is tied for the team lead with 20 runs scored. Jace Sifore is hitting .303 and a team-high 13 RBIs, while Jaxon Kampshoff is hitting .344 with 12 RBIs and 20 runs scored. Ryder Erickson is also hitting .351.
Genzlinger has also been the top Tiger on the mound, going 3-0 in seven appearances and logging a 1.42 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. Colby Claussen has a 2.07 ERA in 20 1/3 innings, while Jack Neises has a 2.15 ERA in 13 innings.
The Howard pitching staff will be put to the test against Vermillion hitters Jack Kratz and T.J. Tracy. Kratz is hitting .477 with 25 RBIs and 12 extra-base hits. Tracy is hitting .372 with 14 RBIs. Pitcher Jake Jensen has been stifling on the mound, allowing seven earned runs and a 1.2 ERA in 41 innings. Willis Robertson has also allowed one earned run and four walks in 26 innings.
Honkers looks to quell West Central hitting
Platte-Geddes/Dakota Christian/White Lake/Corsica-Stickney has not lost since April 16 and it can thank a strong stable of pitchers. Those pitchers will be put to the test against a high-powered West Central offense at 1 p.m. Monday.
The 10-1 Honkers have four pitchers with at least 15 strikeouts this season, while the Trojans have five players hitting .350 or better and average 8.8 runs per game.
Kelby VanDerWerff has been the ace for PGDCWLCS, striking out 32 batters and allowing two earned runs in 28 1/3 innings this season. Aiden Bultje has also been strong, allowing five earned runs on 13 hits, while fanning 25. Meanwhile, Dawson Hoffman has 17 strikeouts and one walk and has yet to allow an earned run on one hit in eight innings. Myles Kott also has 15 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings.
Ryan Healy is the top hitter for West Central (10-4) at .485, while Grafton Soukup is hitting .429 with a team-high 13 RBIs. Noah Hohn is hitting .393 with 12 RBIs and Loren Jacobson is hitting .382 with seven RBIs. Zach Madsen is hitting .351 and has knocked in 10 runs.
Gregory County, Dell Rapids meet in battle of sluggers
Gregory County is making its first-ever appearance in the state tournament and will need its stellar offense to knock off Dell Rapids at 7 p.m. Monday.
Rylan Peck has been a terror this season for Gregory (10-5), hitting .742 with 18 RBIs, while totaling a 1.226 slugging percentage. Trey Murry is also hitting .559 with six RBIs and has scored on 17 of his 36 plate appearances. Ben Witt is hitting .444 with five RBIs, while Sawyer Tietgen is hitting .407 and Rhoss Oliver is batting .400.
Dell Rapids (18-6) has a slugger of its own in Austin Henry, who is batting .425 and has knocked in 15 runs and scored 28. Kaeden Eastman leads a group of eight Quarriers with double-digit RBIs, compiling 19 this season. Treyse Eastman has 14 RBIs to go along with a .361 average and Aiden Boechler has 13 RBIs and a .311 average. Landon Ruesink has also hit .310 and totaled 12 RBIs.
Henry has also struck out 92 batters and has surrendered one earned run in 37 innings. Jack Henry has allowed four earned runs, while striking out 61 in 36 innings.