Batter up! Dakota Classic hosts largest tournament field in ten year history

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The 10th Annual Dakota Classic tournament will feature 40 teams and eight different pool sites in 2021.

The Dakota Classic was trending upward in 2019 when they hosted their largest tournament field at 32 teams, however, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down their tournament progression a year later.

“Our organization, our board and I’m on the board, we were uncomfortable with the protocols and things like that and we wanted to keep the kids as safe as we could,” tournament director Dan Rausch said.

The tournament was played in 2020, but the field was limited.

“We had three pools of four, so we had twelve teams in it. Those were South Dakota teams because the board wanted to keep it local and not have out-of-state teams and things like that,” Rausch said. “It looked a lot different in 2020, than it did in the prior years and how we expect it to look going forward.”

Many legion teams were eager to get back onto the diamond following last year’s cancelled legion season, which help shape this year’s tournament into the largest in tournament history.

“I think it was easier because everyone was ready to get back out on the field. Our attendance at games, has been higher,” Rausch said. “The number of spectators and just the number of teams that had to skip a year, last year, that are just ready to get out there and go again. So I think it helped honestly.”

The tenth Dakota Classic will feature forty teams and 87 games. This feat is made possible by the eight host sites of Harmodon Park, Augustana, Renner, Brandon, Humboldt, Lennox and Harrisburg.

“We’re working together with the other communities in a really good way, right now. It’s really neat that with all of us working together really helps,” Rausch said. “Once we started doing this, you know, the Humboldt’s the Lennox’s, we all know each other, we’re social, we like each other, it’s not that hard to find a site.”

This year’s tournament will feature 25 teams from out of state, including teams from North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota. The field will even feature two of the past four American Legion World Series runner-ups in Fargo Post 2 (2019) and Creighton Prep (2017).

“What we’re really focused on, is if we can get teams from Omaha and south of there and we can get teams from Minnesota and North Dakota, then we can set up pools where we can say ‘we’re going to have you play teams that you just wouldn’t normally play. You’re going to meet kind of halfway in Sioux Falls,” Rausch said. “It’s a natural meeting spot in Sioux Falls, so the big dogs can kind of come up and play other ones without having to travel four states away.”

The tournament begins on Friday at 11 a.m. across the eight different pool sites. The semifinals and championship will be played on Monday, May 21.

HARMODON EAST POOL

Beresford, SD
Blue Springs, MO
Buffalo, MN
Omaha Gross, NE
Sioux Falls East, SD -Pool Host

Sioux Falls East Post 15 is the host team for the first pool in this year’s tournament.

Beresford, Blue Springs, MO, Buffalo, MN and Omaha, NE will join Post 15.

East is coming off a tournament win down at the Lewis and Clark tournament in Yankton. East went 5-0 to claim the tournament crown.

“We played really well. We swung the bats really well,” Sioux Falls East head coach Matt Storo said. “The guys really competed and really played well. We had great at-bats and did most of the little things right.”

Beresford is a familiar opponent to East, while Blue Springs, Missouri is a talented team from down south.

“I know Beresford beat us last year. We went down to Beresford and they beat us. They’ve got a few good arms that have thrown well this spring,” Storo said. “Blue Springs, I know is a really competitive team right outside of Kansas City, Missouri, and they’ve got some really good talent there.”

Buffalo, MN is a little less familiar to coach Storo, while many Omaha teams bring talent to wherever they travel to.

“Buffalo, Minnesota, I really don’t know much about them, but I can guarantee you that they will be competitive. It seems anybody in that area in Minnesota has some pretty good teams,” Storo said. “It’s the same way around Omaha or Lincoln. Omaha Gross is someone we played five or six years ago, but they’ll be very competitive too, I’m sure.”

The Harmodon East pool begins at noon on Friday, with Beresford vs. Sioux Falls East and that game will be livestreamed on KELOLAND.com.

Omaha Gross vs. Sioux Falls East will make for a fun contest at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

LocationDay & TimeAwayHome
Harmodon 1Friday – 12 p.m.BeresfordSioux Falls East
Harmodon 1Friday – 2:30 p.m.Omaha GrossBeresford
Harmodon 1Friday – 5 p.m.Omaha GrossSioux Falls East
Harmodon 1Friday – 7:30 p.m.BuffaloBlue Springs
Harmodon 2Saturday – 12 p.m. (noon)BuffaloSioux Falls East
Harmodon 2Saturday – 2:30 p.m.BeresfordBuffalo
Harmodon 2Saturday – 5 p.m.Blue SpringsOmaha Gross
Harmodon 2Saturday – 7:30 p.m.Blue SpringsSioux Falls East
Harmodon 1Sunday – 9:30 a.m.BeresfordBlue Springs
Harmodon 1Sunday – 12 p.m. (noon)Omaha GrossBuffalo
Harmodon East Pool Schedule Bold = Livestreamed

HARMODON WEST POOL

Jackson, MN
Norfolk, NE
Pierre, SD
Sioux Falls West, SD – Pool Host
Wayzata, MN

Sioux Falls West owns a 10-6 record through their first 16 games of the season.

“It’s been a fun start to the season. We basically have the same team back from last year, except for four new additions,” West head coach Charlie Dubanoski said. “We’re kind of returning everybody and most of our starters, so that’s kind of fun. We’ve been playing pretty well in our South Dakota class ‘A’ games.”

Despite winning three of their last five, Sioux Falls West knows they will have their hands full this weekend.

“With Jackson, they probably have a couple of big arms and sometimes being the home team, you end up the team that people are gunning for, so I would assume we’ll see a pretty good pitcher there. Then we have Norfolk right after that and everything I know from Nebraska baseball is that they just compete,” Dubanoski said. “I’m very familiar with Wayzata, MN and I would assume they’ll be pretty good from top to bottom and Pierre, we obviously know a lot about. If we want to be somebody in South Dakota, that’s a team that we are going to have to play tough and hopefully play well.”

The Sioux Falls West pool will begin on Friday at noon on Harmodon Field number two. One of the top games to keep an eye on in this pool will be the Pierre vs. Sioux Falls West contest at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

LocationDay & TimeAwayHome
Harmodon 2Friday – 12 p.m.JacksonSioux Falls West
Harmodon 2Friday – 2:30 p.m.NorfolkJackson
Harmodon 2Friday – 5 p.m.NorfolkSioux Falls West
Harmodon 2Friday – 7:30 p.m.WayzataPierre
Harmodon 1Saturday – 12 p.m. (noon)WayzataSioux Falls West
Harmodon 1Saturday – 2:30 p.m.JacksonWayzata
Harmodon 1Saturday – 5 p.m.PierreNorfolk
Harmodon 1Saturday – 7:30 p.m.PierreSioux Falls West
Harmodon 2Sunday – 9:30 a.m.JacksonPierre
Harmodon 2Sunday – 12 p.m. (noon)NorfolkWayzata
Harmodon West Pool Schedule

RENNER POOL

Nehawka, NE
Ralston, NE
Renner Royals, SD – Pool Host
St. Peter, MN
Watertown, SD

The Renner Royals sit at 6-4 overall this season and they are relying on their talented staff of pitchers.

“Our arms are what are definitely going to keep us in the ballgame. We just need to make sure that if we need to play some small ball, we’ll need to play some small ball, otherwise we don’t have to and I won’t have a heart attack playing small ball,” Renner head coach Mike Greco said.

Renner will play some talented competition on Friday and Saturday, but they’re hoping their arms can carry them in the tournament.

“Ralston will be good, Ralston will most definitely be good, so we’ll make sure that we’re ready for that game,” Greco said. “Some of the other teams I tried to look up on GameChanger just to see their records and stuff like that and I’m not overlooking anybody. We’ve got a tough pool, I mean Watertown has been playing well during league play. Ralston will be a good challenge for us and then you know, we’ll have to figure out our pitching for the weekend to give us a chance to make the quarterfinals or semifinals.”

Renner’s pool will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday. Ralston vs. Renner will be on Friday at 4 p.m. and should feature some elite level baseball.

Day & TimeAwayHome
Friday – 11 a.m.WatertownRenner
Friday – 1:30 p.m.RalstonWatertown
Friday – 4 p.m.RalstonRenner
Friday – 6:30 p.m.NehawkaSt. Peter
Saturday – 10:30 a.m.NehawkaRenner
Saturday – 1 p.m.WatertownNehawka
Saturday – 3:30 p.m.St. PeterRalston
Saturday – 6 p.m.St. PeterRenner
Sunday – 10:30 a.m.WatertownSt. Peter
Sunday – 1 p.m.RalstonNehawka
All games played at Renner Ballpark

AUGUSTANA POOL

Dickinson, ND
Eden Prairie, MN
Lincoln North, NE
Renner Post 307, SD – Pool Host
Yankton, SD

Renner Post 307 is going to be one of the youngest teams in this year’s Dakota Classic.

“Every guy on the squad is in their first year of senior legion, so we won’t be the oldest team in the pool,” Post 307 coach Scott Hortness said. “We could probably be one of the youngest in the tournament. We’ve been swinging the bat, okay and the pitchers we run out there have been doing a good job, we just don’t have a lot of depth with our pitchers, as most of our guys play positions.”

As one of the younger teams in the tournament, coach Hortness knows that they’ll have their hands full this weekend.

“Eden Prairie is always good. North, east, south, west, I don’t know Lincoln, but I do know they will probably be good,” Hortness said. “The North Dakota legion teams are normally really good, so I expect them to have real good talent on all of those teams that we play. I’ve seen Yankton and they play clean games, so I think they are being taught well over there.”

Yankton and Renner will meet at 11 a.m. at Augustana to kick-off the tournament. A game to keep an eye on in this pool will be the Eden Prairie vs. Lincoln North game, which begins around 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Day & TimeAwayHome
Friday – 11 a.m.YanktonRenner
Friday – 1:30 p.m.Lincoln NorthYankton
Friday – 4 p.m.Lincoln NorthRenner
Friday – 6:30 p.m.Eden PrairieDickenson
Saturday – 10:30 a.m.Eden PrairieRenner
Saturday – 1 p.m.YanktonEden Prairie
Saturday – 3:30 p.m.DickensonLincoln North
Saturday – 6 p.m.DickensonRenner
Sunday – 10:30 a.m.YanktonDickenson
Sunday – 1 p.m.Lincoln NorthEden Prairie
All games played at Ronken Field at Karras Park

LENNOX POOL

Columbus, NE
East Grand Forks, MN
Lennox, SD – Pool Host
Omaha Central, NE
Worthington, MN

Lennox Post 174 is fresh off of their first tournament of the season, as they earned a runner-up finish in the Wakefield, NE tournament.

“We really hadn’t had much of a chance to get together just with everyone’s schedule, because it seems everyone is busier these days,” Lennox coach Johnny Kirchner said. “Overall, our pitching depth is pretty good. We’re able to score some runs. We’ve got a couple guys where we don’t know exactly where they fit as they are new to the program. We have 14 kids on the roster and everyone contributed in some way over the weekend.”

Lennox will be in the Dakota Classic for yet another season as a host team and as history shows, Post 174 will have some stiff competition this weekend.

“If they’re coming to this tournament, they’re going to be pretty good,” Kirchner said. “We’ve played in this tournament before. We’ve played the Fargo’s of the world and the Omaha’s of the world and they’re going to be good, but if you’re not throwing the ball over the plate and putting the ball in play, it isn’t going to matter.”

Lennox will host Worthington, MN in the first game on Friday at 11 a.m. One of the top games to follow in the Lennox pool could be Omaha Central vs. Columbus, Nebraska at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Day & TimeAwayHome
Friday – 11 a.m.WorthingtonLennox
Friday – 1:30 p.m.Omaha CentralWorthington
Friday – 4 p.m.Omaha CentralLennox
Friday – 6:30 p.m.ColumbusEast Grand Forks
Saturday – 10:30 a.m.ColumbusLennox
Saturday – 1 p.m.WorthingtonColumbus
Saturday – 3:30 p.m.East Grand ForksOmaha Central
Saturday – 6 p.m.East Grand ForksLennox
Sunday – 10:30 a.m.WorthingtonEast Grand Forks
Sunday – 1 p.m.ColumbusOmaha Central
All games played at the Lennox Ballpark

HARRISBURG POOL

Creighton Prep, NE
Harrisburg, SD – Pool Host
Huron, SD
Kindred, ND
Shakopee, MN

The sixth pool will be played in Harrisburg as Post 45 is the host for yet another year in the Dakota Classic Tournament.

Harrisburg will have their hands full this weekend as they meet some very talented teams from four different states.

The biggest name in this pool has to be Creighton Prep from Omaha, NE. Creighton Prep was in the American Legion World Series championship back in 2017, where they finished as the national runner-up.

A game to keep an eye on will be that 4 p.m. game on Friday as Harrisburg meets Creighton Prep.

Day & TimeAwayHome
Friday – 11 a.m.HuronHarrisburg
Friday – 1:30 p.m.Creighton PrepHuron
Friday – 4 p.m.Creighton PrepHarrisburg
Friday – 6:30 p.m.ShakopeeKindred
Saturday – 10:30 a.m.ShakopeeHarrisburg
Saturday – 1 p.m.HuronShakopee
Saturday – 3:30 p.m.KindredCreighton Prep
Saturday – 6 p.m.KindredHarrisburg
Sunday – 10:30 a.m.HuronKindred
Sunday – 1 p.m.Creighton PrepShakopee
All games played at Legion Field in Harrisburg

BRANDON VALLEY POOL

Brandon Valley, SD – Pool Host
Chanhassen, MN
Fargo 2, ND
Gretna, NE
Sioux Falls Post 15 Black

Brandon Valley will be a host site for the Dakota Classic as they will showcase their beautiful First National Bank Field.

Brandon Valley owns a 12-4 overall record, with their four losses coming to class ‘A’ legion baseball teams in South Dakota.

“I think we kind of are where we are. I think we’ve got some stuff that we need to figure out and as soon as we kind of get a couple more things cleaned up, I think we can get ourselves to the top,” Brandon Valley head coach Jeremy VanHeel said. “If we don’t, then we’ll probably sit middle of the road and that’s okay. With all of the games that we play, sitting middle of the road is not too bad.”

The Brandon Valley pool will have several tough teams including Fargo Post 2, a team that claimed runner-up in the American Legion World Series in 2019.

“We played the Fargo schools during the high school season and we know that the Fargo teams are always tough. I mean Fargo Post 2, has a tradition of excellence. They were in the World Series a couple of years ago,” VanHeel said. “Chanhassen is going to be tough. They always have good arms and guys that can play. Gretna is in the Omaha area and there is always great talent out of there and you can’t overlook Sioux Falls Black. They have talent and if you go in there thinking you’re going to roll them over, then they’re going to beat you.”

Brandon Valley will host that Sioux Falls Black team on Friday morning at 11 a.m. One of the bigger matchups to watch for is the Saturday 10:30 a.m. game as Fargo Post 2 meets BV.

Day & TimeAwayHome
Friday – 11 a.m.Sioux FallsBrandon Valley
Friday – 1:30 p.m.GretnaSioux Falls
Friday – 4 p.m.GretnaBrandon Valley
Friday – 6:30 p.m.Fargo Post 2Chanhassen
Saturday – 10:30 a.m.Fargo Post 2Brandon Valley
Saturday – 1 p.m.Sioux FallsFargo Post 2
Saturday – 3:30 p.m.ChanhassenGretna
Saturday – 6 p.m.ChanhassenBrandon Valley
Sunday – 10:30 a.m.Sioux FallsChanhassen
Sunday – 1 p.m.GretnaFargo Post 2
All games played at Aspen Park in Brandon

WEST CENTRAL POOL

Brookings, SD
Fargo Post 400, ND
Lincoln Pius, NE
Orono, MN
West Central, SD – Pool Host

The eighth and final pool will be the West Central pool and that will be played in Humboldt.

West Central will enter the tournament down a few players as they have suffered a few injuries early in the season.

“We’ve been riddled with injuries honestly. We’re kind of battling trying to get guys back and healthy. Our catcher, Cooper Maras, pulled a hamstring in college football and so he hasn’t been able to catch for us much,” West Central coach Jon Maras said. “Noah Hohn, who is our three hitter, one of the best hitters on the team, he banged his knee this last weekend down in Hartington, NE, so he’s out this weekend. That definitely hurts not having one of our middle of the lineup guys.”

The Trojans will have to try and work around the injuries as they prepare for a tough pool in this year’s Dakota Classic.

“Brookings is a team that we faced last year and it seems they always have a different lineup,” Maras said. “The other teams I don’t know much about, but Fargo (Post 400) always has a good team, it seems like. We know that we have a pretty tough bracket.”

Brookings and West Central will kick-off the tournament on Friday at 11 a.m. The game to watch in this bracket has to be the night game on Friday as Lincoln Pius meets Fargo Post 400.

Day & TimeAwayHome
Friday – 11 a.m.BrookingsWest Central
Friday – 1:30 p.m.OronoBrookings
Friday – 4 p.m.OronoWest Central
Friday – 6:30 p.m.Lincoln PiusFargo Post 400
Saturday – 10:30 a.m.Lincoln PiusWest Central
Saturday – 1 p.m.BrookingsLincoln Pius
Saturday – 3:30 p.m.Fargo Post 400Orono
Saturday – 6 p.m.Fargo Post 400West Central
Sunday – 10:30 a.m.BrookingsFargo Post 2
Sunday – 1 p.m.OronoLincoln Pius
All games played at the Humboldt Ballpark

Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Championship

The quarterfinals will be played at 5 and 6 p.m. at various locations amongst the pools. The semi-finals will be played at Augustana at 9 and 11 a.m. on Monday, followed by the championship.


KELOLAND Media Group will have coverage of several games from this weekend! Make sure to follow @KELOBower, @Tanner_Castora, @KELOSweeter and @KELOSports on Twitter for updates from the tournament!

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