Unlike Class AA and A summer baseball teams around the state, Belfield/South Heart and Class B have decided to play this summer as an independent league.
“All the Class B coaches got together and we formed an independent league. The A and AA went senior babe ruth, but we went independent,” Kurt Silbernagel who is the head coach of Belfield/South Hear and the district 1 representative.
Hettinger, Beulah, Hazen and the Bismarck Capitals will join Belfield/South Heart in their district this summer after New Salem didn’t have enough kids to field a team and Washburn isn’t playing this summer after the legion season was cancelled. Their players will join Hazen’s team.
The Knights will open their season next weekend on June 6 vs. Hettinger in a non-conference game.
Opening day will begin with little league games going all the way until the Knight’s first pitch of the season.
Ian Silbernagel and Shay Olson will be two key cogs on the mound for Belfield/South Heart this summer.
The junior class will also determine the teams success this summer. This includes one of their better pitchers in Preston Walter who is nursing an injury but hopeful to return by mid summer.
“(We have) five juniors who are all pretty strong including maybe our two best pitchers,” said Kurt Silbernagel. “Preston Walter may not get back until the middle of summer. He had ACL surgery last fall due to football and tried to come back in basketball and it didn’t work.”
Every player on the team this summer was going to play high school baseball, and with the season being cancelled, players will be more rusty than normal for summer ball.
“Everybody is in the same boat. It may take a little bit to get into the groove of things and in playing shape,” Kurt Silbernagel said. “Pitching will probably be the most stressful for our kids. Under normal conditions, they’d have their arm strength built up and we could get more innings out of each kid. We will have to fill in some kids in the second game of doubleheaders that haven’t pitched much or at all.”
While Belfield/South Heart has a strong group of 16-19 year olds, they will also be relying on a few 15 year olds that they will have to call up too.
There are only 10 players on the roster which means that all players will get the chance to get a lot of at bats and innings on the mound.
The Knights have 28 games scheduled and that does not include tournaments, so spreading out innings for pitchers will be critical.
As for strengths of the team, Kurt Silbernagel thinks that defense will be one and he also wants to see 1-9 in the batting rotation step up to generate runs.
“Defensively we have been getting better every year and should be solid,” he said. “Obviously that depends on what happens with pitching but I think our defense can play with anyone in the region. As for our bats, we have to start hitting 1-9. We had relied too much on our 1,2,3 and 4 hitters in the past. We have had solid athletes up there, but the bottom of the order hasn’t always hit for average. I think we may turn the corner on that this year.”
The district will be challenging as Beulah is always good, Hettinger has 18 players with a few from Bowman and Hazen will have a lot of numbers with kids from Washburn, but the Knights hope to be able to keep up and turn the misfortune of missing the high school season into a joyous summer season.
“We definitely have our work cut out for us and our kids are going to have to step up and hit the ball for us to have success,” said Kurt Silbernagel.