The State "A" Legion baseball tournament is set to begin this week. Rapid City Post 22 will be looking to defend their 2013 title and capturing their 39th. However Region 2A Champion Sioux Falls West has the balance that just may allow them to bring home their third championship in twelve years.
Post 15 West will enter Huron with a record of 33-21 on the year. In those 54 games they have outscored their opponents by an average of six runs to four while batting .297. It is numbers like these that give guys like Connor Grove high hopes in this year's tournament.
"I think going to Huron our expectations are pretty high. We have had a great season. If we can string everything together such as out hitting, defense, and pitching I think we have a great chance to go all the way. Then maybe we can bring a state title back to Sioux Falls," Grove said.
Not only are they hitting the ball well, but Skipper Joel Sage has a plethora of arms on his pitching staff. The most notable is southpaw Stuart Baruth. The soon to be senior's stat line is quite impressive as he has tallied 68 strikeouts while giving up just ten earned runs in over 61 innings of work.
"Yeah, Stuart has been our ace all season. He was great last year, great this spring, and he has continued that success throughout this summer. He is 7-1 with a very low ERA and we have a ton of confidence when he is on the mound," SF Post 15 West Manager Joel Sage said.
The man behind the mask on the other end of those confident pitchers is Kenny Dobberpuhl. He is one of four players wrapping up their third and final year in a Post 15 uniform. For him it will be an emotional weekend, win or lose.
"It’s going to be sad because it may be the last time I get to play with these guys, but hopefully we can keep it going into next week too. I'd like to head to Fargo with a state championship. That would mean the world to me, all I've ever dreamt about is winning a legion state championship," Dobberpuhl said.
The State "A" Tournament will begin Wednesday in Huron. Brookings will take on Yankton at 10 A.M. Pierre and Sioux Falls West will take the field at 12:30. Defending champion Rapid City Post 22 and Watertown will meet at 5 o'clock and wild card Brandon Valley will take on Huron at 7:30.