Post 171 on track, heading into District 6 tournament
Following up a sub-district sweep with a District 6, Division II title will sit very well with Kyle Dykhoff and his Wadena-Deer Creek American Legion baseball team.
"In the sub-district we played very well. I feel that we're hitting the ball real well, we're pitching the ball well, but the one thing we've got to do is tighten up our defense," Dykhoff said.
Dykhoff saw his third-ranked club out-score their sub-district competition 35-13. They beat second-ranked Sebeka in their first game 9-2, clubbed top-ranked Staples-Motley 18-7 and then claimed an 8-4 victory over Staples-Motley in the sub-district title game.
Dykhoff went into the district tournament rating his team a contender for a state trip along with Long Prairie and Albany. It was Long Prairie that ended the season for Dykhoff's WDC Wolverines in the high school section tournament and Albany that ousted Long Prairie.
Post 171 was not able to count on Kenny Sakry going into the District 6 tournament due to a prior commitment, but Dykhoff still had three solid starting right-handers on his staff - Ryan Redfield, Jonathan Goeden and David Najjar.
"Ryan has been our ace," Dykhoff said. "He's found his curveball in the in the last few games and that sets up his fastball. His velocity is his biggest thing."
Goeden took a 4-0 record into the district tournament at Browerville. Goeden has not only been a strong starter but he has been a good reliever and has recorded two saves.
"He has done a great job of being someone we can go to at any time," Dykhoff said. "He has great control, a good curveball and has done a great job of mixing it up."
Najjar missed about half the regular season but he has been steady lately and earned the win as WDC stopped Staples-Motley 8-4 last Thursday in the sub-district championship game.
"He's been throwing more strikes and anytime you do that with a defense like ours you're going to do all right," Dykhoff said.
Jake Rude was WDC's main stick in the sub-district tournament.
"Jake's been absolutely hitting the cover off the ball," Dykhoff said of his veteran catcher. "Since the sub-district started he's finally looked like the Jake Rude of 2011."
Rude was bothered a hand injury during the high school season. After hitting .331 in his junior year he hit only .200 this spring. Rude went 8-for-9 in the sub-district with four doubles and one triple.
Jake Krause has been over at third where he is hitting the ball at close to a .400 clip. He played at first during the high school season but Cory Tumberg's return from Central Lakes after the college season released Krause for the hot box.
Wyatt Weber has been proving himself to be a strong catcher when Rude is not behind the plate. Weber has been excellent in checking base runners and has thrown out 75 percent of them.
Jeremy Hoemberg, who played high school ball for Staples-Motley during the high school season, has come over to share second base with Goeden and do some pitching. His biggest contribution going into the district has been his hitting.
Christian Berg gives Dykhoff a player that he can count on anywhere in the lineup. Berg has played a lot of outfield for the Post 171 team and done some catching too.
"He can hit the ball well," Dykhoff said in praising Berg. "He's a good contact hitter."
Rounding out the team has been Isaac Laughlin, Ricky Price, Joey Price and Isaac Zeise.
Joining WDC in the District 6 tournament field at Browerville were Long Prairie, Browerville, Aitkin, Staples-Motley, Albany, MapleLake/Mora and Paynesville. The winner moves to the Division II state tournament Aug. 2-5 in Sacred Heart.