After a rough start to the season, one tournament could be the turning point for the Mandan Chiefs, a team that is looking to put it all together.
The Heilman’s Invite in Minot proved to the Chiefs that their early-season struggles could be behind them. 39 runs combined in five games, a far cry from the offensive woes in the first few weeks.
“I think everyone wanted to be that guy honestly,” says Cole Schmidt. “Before, we were just trying to make contact and now we’re trying to do damage with it, and we all want to be that guy that scores runs.”
For head coach Jake Kincaid, his focus is on how the team can move forward from an epic performance.
“Just kind of bottle those at-bats that we’ve had,” says head coach Jake Kincaid. “It’s not necessarily about getting a hit but grinding out a seven or eight-pitch at-bat and finding a way on base and I think our kids are trying to buy into those philosophies.”
The Chiefs not only want to rely on the bats. Kincaid is trying to be creative in finding innings on the mound.
“We really try and keep an eye on a pitch count, rests, mandatory rests, those kinds of things,” Kincaid says. “But we’ve kind of had to force-feed some kids a little bit and say, hey maybe you don’t pitch a lot or you’re not comfortable but we need you. We need you to kind of figure it out.”
If the results keep coming, these players feel they can avoid the play-in game, and turns some heads at the state tournament.
“If everyone plays spot on, we should beat teams by a lot and have fun doing it,” says Isaac Huettl. “And we had fun this weekend and we hope to continue that.”
Mandan is turning to their young players as well, knowing they’ll be a big factor in late July.
“They’re finding out that some of the things might not work, that work down there, might not translate up here,” says Kincaid. “So we’re still working through that but they bring a great attitude every day.”
The Chiefs are off for the week and next play Williston at home on the 13th.