It's a position Carrington American Legion baseball coach Tim Ranum said can be difficult to be in, but added his team is ready for the challenge.
Carrington is arguably favored to win this week's American Legion Class B state baseball tournament in Hazen. Post 25 will play Hazen in the last opening-round quarterfinal tomorrow at Slinde Field beginning at approximately 7 p.m.
Carrington, the District 4 champions, finished the regular season undefeated in district play and has qualified for the state tournament for a sixth straight summer. Post 25 won the Class B tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and lost to Thompson in the championship game in 2018.
Ranum said he believes Post 25 can play at the level necessary to bring back its fourth tournament title in six years.
"We have a good core group of kids that are back (this season and) I think the kids are prepared and they understand what it takes to win at that level," Ranum said.
Despite some uncharacteristic errors early on in the district tournament and a little trouble offensively, Post 25 has featured talent from the top to the bottom of the order this season. Shortstop Kyle Leapaldt has led Carrington at the plate and on the mound during the regular season recording 14 strikeouts during last week's district tourney in Carrington. Catcher Lucas Geiszler has also been a strong asset at the plate.
Leapaldt, Geiszler and Seth Nelson have all toed the rubber for Post 25 this season and were deemed by Ranum as the main talent on the mound. Ranum said the Post 25 coaching staff will be using all three pitchers, as well as some others due to the length of the five-day tournament.
"We feel like we have three really good arms that can beat just about anybody," Ranum said. "We (also) have one or two other guys that can eat up some innings."
Any and all pitchers will be something different for Hazen. The tournament-host Astros have not faced Post 25 this season. Ranum said he's not positive what to expect, but added he's confident Post 25 will bring its A-game offensively and defensively Wednesday night.
"I've heard (Hazen has) some good ballplayers," Ranum said. "I don't know if they have quite the depth and the balance that we do but you never know. It's a winner-take-all kind of deal, so we'll prepare for anything."
Ranum said Post 25 has the skills to be the last team standing on Sunday but will have to stay hot all five days in order to claim the title.
"I am excited to see if we reach that level because I think we have the capability," Ranum said. "This group of kids has kind of been on the doorstep for a couple of years and I am just excited to see them take the next level."
American Legion Baseball
Class B State Tournament
At Hazen (Slinde Field)
Game 1: (D1) Hettinger vs. (D7) Fargo Bombers, 10 a.m.
Game 2: (D2) Burlington vs. (D6) May-Port-CG, 1 p.m.
Game 3: (D3) Surrey vs. (D5) Thompson, 4 p.m.
Game 4: (D4) Carrington vs. Hazen, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Loser G2 vs. Loser G4, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Loser G1 vs. Loser G3, 1 p.m.
Game 7: Winner G1 vs. Winner G3, 4 p.m.
Game 8: Winner G2 vs. Winner G4, 7 p.m.
Game 9: Winner G6 vs. Loser G7, noon.
Game 10: Winner G5 vs. Loser G8, 3 p.m.
Game 11: Winner G7 vs. Winner G8, 6 p.m.
Game 12: Winner G9 vs. Loser G11, 2 p.m.
Game 13: Winner G10 vs. Winner G11, 5 p.m.
Game 14: Winner G12 vs. Winner G13, noon.
Game 15: Winner G14 vs. Loser G14, if necessary.