Honkers carry confidence, momentum into Class B baseball tournament

May 28—PLATTE, S.D. — A shaky start followed by a strong push to the finish carried Platte-Geddes/Dakota Christian/White Lake back to the Class B state baseball tournament.

In more ways than one.

PGDCWL started the season 3-4, but a three-game win streak boosted the Honkers into the postseason with a winning record and the No. 5 seed in Region 4B. In the region playoffs, a 6-0 win over St. Thomas More put PGDCWL one win from the state tourney.

However, during the ensuing state tournament qualification game against Hot Springs, the Honkers watched their entire 2024 season play out over seven innings. After falling into an early 3-0 hole, PGDCWL rallied for a 4-3 victory that secured the program's fourth consecutive state tournament bid.

"It's been quite the season. We've had a lot of ups and downs," added fellow senior Tanner Dyk. "But we turned it on right when we needed to."

But with the extra opportunity they earned and a confidence that has grown with each win during a five-game streak, the Honkers (8-4) believe they can make a run in Sioux Falls.

"Everyone has come together really well, and we're playing as a team," said senior Caden Oberbroekling. "It's been a big confidence boost."

This year's Class B tournament is set at Augustana's Ronken Field. No. 6 overall seed PGDCWL opens with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 3 Howard (9-1) at 5 p.m. Friday, May 31.

Though the Honkers enter as the underdog by seed, Oberbroekling, the Augustana baseball signee and presumptive Game 1 starting pitcher, has an arm that could help level the playing field. Against St. Thomas More in the first region postseason contest, the left-hander spun a gem with a three-hit shutout, finishing with 14 strikeouts and zero walks.

"When he's pitching like that, we're really hard to beat," Dyk said of Oberbroekling's playoff performance. "And when he's on the mound, I feel like we play pretty good defense behind him, too."

But according to both Oberbroekling and Dyk, the biggest key for the Honkers will be at the plate, where they've manufactured better than nine runs per game in their wins but just 13 total runs across their four losses.

"We've been putting bat to ball and forcing the other team to make plays, and that's what we have to keep doing," Oberbroekling said.

With Dyk and Oberbroekling as two members of a core that has maintained PGDCWL's state tournament streak, prior experience leads them to believe that if they can advance through the quarterfinals, anything can happen in the two-day tournament.

If the Honkers defeat Howard, they'd play either No. 2 Madison/Chester or No. 7 Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Corsica-Stickney on Saturday. The championship game is at 6:30 p.m. to cap the eight-team bracket.

"Getting to where we are, we had to work for it. It wasn't just given to us, so it's definitely a good feeling going back to the state tournament having earned it," Oberbroekling said. "Seeding is just a number. Anyone can take home a (win), so I feel like we have a shot. We're going in with confidence, and we'll see what we can do."