Excitement infused: Dickinson starts season on the road against Bismarck Century todayThe Dickinson High baseball team has a new addition this season — a new field.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The Dickinson High baseball team has a new addition this season — a new field.
Fieldturf is being installed at Southside Municipal Ballpark, putting the Midgets on the road until the project is completed later this month.
Though Dickinson will be one of the select few teams to play on artificial turf — it’s a surface similar to Fisher Field at the Badlands Activities Center — this high school baseball season, the players know it will be a major adjustment.
“On ground balls, we’re working on coming up quicker, because on the turf it’s going to coming hard at us,” Dickinson senior Taylor Thiel said. “When we go and play in the dirt. We are going to have to start charging the ball.”
Dickinson opens up the season against Bismarck Century today at 3:30 p.m. in Bismarck.
The Midgets have a host of returning experienced players this season and head coach Pete Dobitz said those veterans will play a key role. Dickinson has seniors Jon Wanner and Taylor Kraenzel, who will share time at shortstop, Korey Kallenbach in center field and junior Brady Dutchak at catcher.
“We have some quality players coming back,” Dobitz said. “I always said the game is won up the middle, whether you want to talk about guys on the mound, or your shortstop or center fielder.”
Mason Schiff, a senior at Dickinson Trinity and a veteran for the Midgets, had Tommy John Surgery two years ago. He spent the majority of last year rebuilding the strength in his arm and he plans to have a solid season on the mound, where he excelled early in his career.
“I feel like I’ve definitely got my arm stronger to where I can sort of let it go,” Schiff said. “I know my arm is going to keep getting stronger as the season goes on.”
Dickinson has eight seniors to bolster its lineup, including Brett Braunagel, who will attempt to compete in both baseball and track and field. Other seniors are D.J. Weismann and Dan Anderson. There are also a slew of younger players that have high potential.
“We just have to set an example for them,” Thiel said. “Go out and play hard every play and in practice we have to do the same thing.”
The Midgets starting second baseman will be sophomore Dylan Skabo. Dobitz said the budding performance of Skabo is due to his athleticism in all sports. He was the spent time as the football team’s quarterback last fall and was a go-to pinch runner for the Midgets as a freshman.
“He’s just a very athletic kid,” Dobitz said. “The thing he has going for him in baseball is his instincts are so good. Some place down the line, he’ll probably be a shortstop.”
James Kary, a junior at Beach High School, is expected to carry a large pitching load for the Midgets and has the offensive pop to be in the starting lineup.
“He’s a guy that I’m going to have to find a way to get into the lineup,” Dobitz said.
The Midgets are also counting on sophomore Brett Schweitzer and junior Trevor Coates to be components on the pitching staff.
“We definitely have some young guys too, not just the older guys that are going to do some pitching for us,” Schiff said. “Basically we have a lot of guys that can throw strikes, which you definitely need in high school baseball with wood bats.”
Junior Alex Huschka is currently slated to be the team’s closer.
“The first couple of games out, we kind of have him slated as the closer,” Dobitz said. “He’s got an unbelievable arm and he does an amazing job in right field.”
Stephen Greenwood will be the team’s full-time pitching coach. The assistant coaching staff consists of Greenwood, veteran assistant Jim Steckler, as well as two of Dobitz’s former players, Andy Tomanek and Taylor Dutchak.
“We had the benefit of adding another coach to the coaching staff,” he said. “Now I have a full-time pitching coach too. I’m just excited to see the dividends that are going to come out of that.”
Pleasant weather has been the Midgets’ biggest highlight this season. Dickinson has yet to hold a practice inside and Schiff said it has helped the team immensely.
“I’m sure Coach Dobitz doesn’t even remember the last time we didn’t have to start inside,” Schiff said with a smile. “It helps a lot with being outside, having more room to do things and getting a lot more things done.”
For Dobitz, the best thrill this season will be the level of competition throughout the season. With 16 guys on the varsity roster, everyone will be competing for playing time.
“It’s nice to be two players, sometimes three players, deep at each position,” he said. “Then they know, everything from being an American citizen, to keeping your grades up in school, to behaving and playing your position on the field. All that stuff has in impact in my program, we really work to make our program exceptional in that way.”