Dickinson Roughriders head coach Andy Emard heads into a new American Legion baseball season with a first in his career. His team has perhaps the most amount of turnover of any team he's coached. "In all my years of coaching, I've never had it wh...
Dickinson Roughriders head coach Andy Emard heads into a new American Legion baseball season with a first in his career.
His team has perhaps the most amount of turnover of any team he's coached.
"In all my years of coaching, I've never had it where I've had only one returning player," Emard said.
The season gets under way Monday as Dickinson visits the Mandan Chiefs on Monday.
Caleb Burgard is the only returner to the two-time defending Class A state champion Roughriders.
"Some people may take us for granted," Emard said. "But with their work ethic, we're going to be a different team than most people expect."
Burgard sees this season as a chance to step up as the leader for the team.
"We should be alright," Burgard said. "We have kind of a young team, but we have a lot of people who want to work hard."
Another veteran in the system who played for Dickinson High's varsity team, Jordan Tescher, jumps up from the Volunteers -- Dickinson's junior team.
"We have a young group," Emard said. "They're very receptive and willing to learn. That's all we ask for."
Not bringing back any college players is rare for a top-tier Legion team.
But not bringing back anyone, with the exception of one player, will mean the next generation of Roughriders won't have the luxury of a slow adjustment to playing on the "A" team.
That lack of experience won't be an excuse Emard wants to hear.
"I don't look for this in any way to be a rebuilding year," Emard said.
Burgard said many players will get a chance that he really didn't get because of older players who held onto their starting jobs for several years.
"They really don't have to wait," Burgard said. "They can step in and get that experience for next year, and this year."
Sean Kelly and Scott Gordan head the pitching staff. Taylor Dutchak and Taylor Kraenzel should see some time as well.
Kraenzel made his varsity debut for Dickinson High against Jamestown on May 15. The sophomore allowed one earned run and one hit in four innings.
After those four, Emard said the entire team could be used.
"Pretty much everybody else throws," Emard said.
Emard said the one thing Dickinson isn't lacking is arms.
"Summer becomes a different time", Emard said. "Weather is little bit better and it's easier to play the game of baseball."
Helping the pitching staff come along is new pitching coach Kyle Wink. Wink played for Emard on the Billings (Mont.) Royals Legion team.
"Pretty much for us, if they're throwing strikes, they are giving us a chance to win," Emard said.
The Roughriders have a completely new look behind the plate with the departures of Michael Steve and Connor McNeilly.
Brandon Lange and Nick Rohwedder platoon at catcher.
Tevin Papineau starts at first, with a mix of utility infielders taking his spot when Papineau pitches. Kelly starts at second and Gordon mans shortstop in their pitching off days. Grant Dvorak will play third base.
Emard said Kraenzel will play short and at third.
"We have a lot of utlity infielders we can move around," Emard said.
In the outfield, Burgard starts in left field, with Brodie Candrian, Kody Kallenbach and Dutchak rotating around.
Tescher could play out in right field if his injured knee gets better.
"We like to get him out there and play," Emard said. "He'll probably be doing a lot of DH'ing for us."
The inexperience doesn't faze Emard. He sees it as a chance to help the players get better. He also said the players are hungry to prove themselves.
"They're ready for it to be their turn," Emard said.