The Mandan A’s made it to the state tournament last season. However, things look a lot different for the Class A yellow and gold. But the few familiar faces they do have hope to be the spark to get them back.
The A’s feel like they have a team that can get them to Valley City in early August, but just because they made it to state last season, doesn’t guarantee they will make it again. That’s why they lean on the few experienced players they have on their roster.
“We have four guys coming back from last summer,” said head coach Rob Bird Horse. “The team that qualified for the state tournament, so we’re looking for a lot of leadership from them through these younger guys.”
Players like Seth Arenz, who was on the roster last season, using his play on the field as a tool to help lead his new teammates.
“It’s very important because these kind of set the tone for the rest of the season in getting our groove,” said infielder Seth Arenz. “We don’t have as much experience because a lot of the guys are up on the Chiefs so we just got to work extra hard.”
A few weeks in, some of the new players are seeing a difference in the team.
“Definitely during practice,” pitcher Luke Darras said. “When we mess around, they tell us we need to focus up, we need to stay intact and when it comes to game time they’ll be ready to challenge us in any way, ready to get the win.”
The A’s know they’ll be young this season, including some players that will come in to help with the rigorous schedule.
“We decided to do a duel roster five of the 14-year-olds,” says Bird Horse. “So when we run into those weeks where we’re playing six games, we have five guys that we can bring up and give us a little contribution on the mound or wherever we may need it on the field.”
Through the returnee’s leadership, Bird Horse believes a return trip to state is in the cards.
“I’m not changing my expectations,” Bird Horse said. “So I’m kind of holding the returners a lot more accountable as far as being those second, third, fourth coaches on the field.”