After strong spring, Roughriders focus on new goals, improvement
There's no rest for the weary -- or the elite.Less than a week removed from a Class A state championship, members of the Dickinson High baseball team are regrouping to take the field once again for the Dickinson Roughriders American Legion team, ...
There’s no rest for the weary - or the elite.
Less than a week removed from a Class A state championship, members of the Dickinson High baseball team are regrouping to take the field once again for the Dickinson Roughriders American Legion team, which begins its season with a doubleheader at Williston starting at 3:30 p.m. today. The Roughriders host their first game at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Rapid City (S.D.) Post 320 at Southside Ballpark and Astoria Field.
With no discernable turnaround period to speak of, the players aim to put the emotions of the state championship behind them in order to focus on new challenges.
“We all have to come down to earth a little bit,” second baseman Benson Kramer said. “The three games we put together at state, we know we’re not going to play that way for three months, but we know we can hit the ball and throw the ball.”
The Roughriders went 21-30 last summer, and playing from behind became commonplace, Kramer said. But if the Roughriders will take anything away from their successful spring, it’s that they know they are not the same team as last summer.
“We had a couple games last year where things got out of hand quick. We got 10-runned a lot, but I think we’ll be more competitive,” Kramer said. “For the most part, it’ll be our same team (as the spring), plus or minus a couple guys. It’s kind of the same team, and up and down the lineup, we should be contributing again. Confidence-wise, it’ll help knowing we can compete with any team.”
Another year older with another year of experience, the Roughriders expect to reverse their fortune for this summer.
“Last year, we had a pretty young team, and we were playing some tough competition,” outfielder Shawn Steffan said. “We weren’t very successful, but we really learned what we need to improve on, and we know how much harder we have to work to get those wins.”
Head coach Cory Hansen hasn’t had much time to work with the team yet, but he said he’s still seen a stark difference from last season.
“I can tell from this week’s practice just how much more fine-tuned the drills are. Things are much crisper in how they are being accomplished,” Hansen said. “All the progress that we made last summer definitely showed up in the springtime. Just from the short time that I’ve been able to see them, I can see the progress.”
With the core remaining largely unchanged, Hansen hopes the team’s chemistry shines through again.
“I don’t have to finish a sentence now. They know what I expect,” Hansen said. “Mike McChesney is a great leader, with Benson Kramer, Brock Messer, those are our seniors. Throw in (Cam) Jorda, (Tanner) Ouellette, Steffan, they’re all knowledgeable athletes that pay attention to details.”
The elation of the spring state championship is, of course, still fresh in their minds, and the Roughriders will look to harness the confidence gained from that and put together another special season.
“We have all the tools to do it,” said Kramer, who will play baseball at Bismarck State College next year. “It’s just about getting better over the course of the season. Hopefully we can do something close to that again (and) brew something up in late July and early August.”
Steffan added: “We feel on top of the world right now, but it’s a new season and a new team, with some new players here and there. Nothing comes easy. We worked for that state championship, and now we have to go out and and do it again this summer.”