CPR Notebook: Eden Prairie looking for back-to-back titlesIt was just one year ago that Eden Prairie won the Central Plains Regional championship and went to the American Legion baseball World Series.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
It was just one year ago that Eden Prairie won the Central Plains Regional championship and went to the American Legion baseball World Series.
The team placed second at the World Series and is back looking for its second consecutive regional title.
“It’s obviously tough to follow that type of season,” Eden Prairie head coach Scott Hackett said. “We just wanted to come out and play the best we can every game.”
Being back at the regional tournament, Eden Prairie should have an edge on experience.
“I think the experience definitely helps,” Hackett said. “It definitely paid off for us in our district tournament.”
The one player that Hackett had the most to say about was Tyler Peterson. The North Iowa Community College player sends out a positive message.
“When you talk about a team leader, he definitely comes to mind,” Hackett said. “The thing is, when he’s talking its all positive, whether it’s to the opposing team or picking players up.”
Confidence has to be high heading into the regional tournament, but Eden Prairie knows they have a large task ahead of them.
“It’s never easy, but if we come and play the way we are capable, we have as good as chance as anybody” Hackett said.
Underdog Lino Lakes looks for more
From a team that finished just over .500 during the high school season to a team that is playing in the Central Plains Regional is a big turnaround, but that is what Minnesota runner-up Lino Lakes Post 566 accomplished this summer.
“We’ve gotten on the roll that came around playoff time,” Lino Lakes head coach Rollie Goertzen said. “This is a first time deal for our program.”
One player who is responsible for the turnaround is Austin Malinowski. The Centennial High School graduate is a 16th-round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins and has a scholarhip offer to play at the University of Arizona.
“I obviously want to go out there (to Dickinson) and pitch well,” Malinowski said. “If I can help out my teammates to pitch better, I feel like that’s my job too.”
The season has been a rollercoaster that Goertzen didn’t even expect. He thought Lino Lakes could do well in the state tournament, but never expected a run to regionals.
“I was totally expecting that we could make a run at the state tournament,” Goertzen said. “Making it to regionals? No. Optimistically, I had the date in Dickinson marked on my calendar.”
Sioux Falls put up 68 runs in five games
For a team that prides itself on pitching and defense, scoring 68 runs in five games is a wake-up call for the bats.
One player that can do both pitching and hitting is Sioux Falls (S.D.) East’s Alex Schultz, who won most valuable player honors in the South Dakota state tournament, which included a nine-inning, 10-strikeout performance in the championship game.
“Alex is more or less just a competitor and just loves to get out and compete,” Sioux Falls East coach Brandon Hunt said. “He’s a kid that has been in a lot of big game situations.”
Omaha (Neb.) Pi Midwest can score in bunches
Nebraska state champion Omaha Pi Midwest had solid hitting performances throughout its district and state tournaments, putting up eight to 12 hits per game.
Omaha head coach Pat Mooney knows it’s going to be tough to come by those hits during the Central Plains Regional though.
“I can’t expect that when we get to up to regionals we are going get eight to 12 hits per game,” he said. “If we can scratch out about five or six and hold the other teams down, we might be able to stay in some of the ball games.”
Mooney is familiar with the process of the regional tournament.
“We’ve been to a couple regional tournaments,” Mooney said. “So we know the day-to-day routine.”
Grand Island makes its first trip in more than 10 years
The expectations for Nebraska state runner-up Grand Island are simple, especially for a team hasn’t won the state championship since 1998.
“We are very excited to play up in Dickinson,” Grand Island head coach Tino Martinez said. “The only expectation we have is that we expect everybody to be very good.”
Martinez takes pride in the central part of his state’s strong baseball foundation.
“The central part of the state of Nebraska has been very successful,” he said. “We’ve always been able to hold our own and compete with the metro teams.”
Carroll County hasn’t played together since May
Iowa is the only state that play American Legion baseball in the spring and its high school season in the summer.
Carroll County, Iowa, won its first state championship in May and now reunite for the regional.
“We are interested to see what happens,” Carroll head coach Matt Lujano said. “We feel that the talent we have out on the field can compete with anybody.”
The Merchants haven’t played as a team since the title game. However, some of their players were on a team that finished their high school season with a 38-2 record.
“That’s a little issue,” said. “All the kids stay in contact with each other and a lot of them are playing each other all summer long.”