A Season With The Highlanders

BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

The journey.

From the bottom of the standings into respectability. From years of frustration into one of hope. The hope of a turnaround. The hope that maybe, just maybe, this is the year.

Bat Man
Scotland manager Jason Vaith wraps tape around a new bat before Tuesday night’s amateur baseball practice in Scotland. (Jeremy Hoeck/P&D

That’s where the Scotland amateur baseball team finds itself this summer. And that’s exactly why the Highlanders make for a perfect focus for a summer series in the Press & Dakotan.

We’re calling it a ‘Season With The Highlanders.’

We will be taking you, the reader, behind the scenes with Scotland during the South Central League (SCL) season. I will be attending practices, hanging with the team during an occasional game and profiling the players. Put simply, you’ll see what it’s like for a small-town amateur baseball team.

And that one that has struggled the last few years.

There’s no ignoring the fact that the Highlanders – typically one of the youngest teams in the SCL – haven’t been competitive for some time now. Truth be told, they haven’t won a game against a SCL opponent since June 6, 2013. That’s a string of 54 consecutive losses (including district tournaments), heading into tonight’s (Thursday) home game with Crofton.

That’s why, in our opinion, Scotland is the best option for this series. It’s a team looking to turn a corner; looking to gain a foothold. It’s the kind of story you hear about far too often in the amateur baseball ranks; a small town struggling with numbers but still finding a way to keep a team. Scotland could’ve folded up shop and stopped fielding a team. Some towns have. But not Scotland.

Teams like Crofton and Wynot, for example, have historically found success in the SCL and at the South Dakota state tournament. Those are teams that have recently captured state championships. They are perennial contenders. But when you come into every season knowing you’ll likely be right there near the top of the standings every summer, there’s not much of a climb.

Scotland, on the other hand, has the steepest climb of anyone.

And we’ll be taking you inside that journey all summer.

Will this be the summer the Highlanders win a game or two? Come along for the ride and find out.

Follow @jhoeck on Twitter

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