SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls Little League team won the state championship last week and now they’ll represent team South Dakota in the Little League World Series Midwest Regional.
This group of Sioux Falls little leaguers won their state championship in 2021 and that gave them momentum heading into this season.
“It started with last year. 90% of these kids are from the team last year and we won state last year, so I had no doubt that we would go out to Rapid this year, play competitive ball and move on,” head coach Joe Rempp said.
The road to this year’s state championship didn’t come without a few bumps. Sioux Falls was forced to come through the loser’s bracket to win the title and they did just that.
“We had to lose one, to know this isn’t going to be a walk in the park. We came through in the second one and kept the energy up. We didn’t get down after the first one and I think that helped us,” pitcher/first baseman Kade Oehlke said.
“Oh it was really cool, because we’ll be playing for South Dakota. We’ll be going out there and having fun,” left fielder Henrik Kortan said.
Sioux Falls has relied on their bats this season and they showed that in the state championship when they outscored Harney, 12-9.
“Everyone can hit the ball. Someone’s going to go up to the plate and everyone is going to hit the ball hard. They can drive in a run or some of us can even hit it out,” Oehlke said.
“Hitting is key, you know, it’s contagious. We tell them, once the first kid gets a hit, then the second and we just keep that line moving. We have some great starters in the lineup and a great leadoff hitter,” Rempp said.
Now, the Sioux Falls little league is headed to the Midwest Regional, where they’ll represent team South Dakota.
“We told the boys to soak it in. You are 14 kids out of the state of South Dakota, hundreds of little league players. You get to go and represent your state. You get to sit in the dugouts, just soak it all in,” Rempp said.
Team South Dakota made a historic run last year in the Little League World Series and that experience is giving this year’s team added confidence.
“Knowing that the last year’s team could do it, I think that brings our team to have more confidence for us. It just brings our spirits up,” Kortan said.
Team South Dakota will now play in the first round of the Midwest Regional. They’ll play Missouri at noon on Friday, August 5.