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Local teams prep for wood bat tournament

The 2017 Perham Wood Bat Tournament will feature a small but very competitive field for the annual two day event at Krueger Field in Perham on June 17 and 18. Perham, Wadena, Ottertail Central and Taconite will battle it out for the crown.

The tournament goes back to the roots of baseball with the high school aged athletes using wood bats. Instead of the ping of aluminum bats, fans will hear the traditional sound of a ball being squared up by a wooden bat.

This year’s tournament had some juggling done beforehand, but will feature some quality schools battling for the title.

“It’s been going on for years. It’s put on by the Perham Home Run Club, which supports youth baseball from T-ball through Legion baseball. A lot of those things happen because of the Perham Home Run Club,” Tournament Director James Mulcahy said.

For a team like Taconite, it gives them an opportunity to face some different faces that they normally don’t see during the high school and legion season. Taconite head coach Dan Persons said it is always nice to see some different talent from an area they don’t see often.

“It’s an opportunity for players to showcase in front of different people,” Persons said. “Whenever I talk to recruiters they ask who I’ve seen, where are they from and are they committed. As a coach, it allows me to help them out and I’m sure it is the same for other coaches at our level.”

Mulcahy said the coaches will be the ones having to make the biggest adjustments during this tournament.

“The small game is so much more important with bunting, stealing and the hit and run. The balls don’t travel as far,” Mulcahy said. “Your outfielders and infielders have to make adjustments, even if it is just positioning on the infield. With the composite and aluminum bats, a hitter can hit

the ball of his hands and it still will travel. If you hit off your hands, the wood bat shatters or

you can barely feel your hands for the next 10 minutes of the game. There are a lot of adjustments kids have to make. They can swing as hard as they want and they know it’s not going to go that far. It takes a quite an adjustment in the small ball game.”

Along with the many events going on with Turtle Fest, the tournament provides an opportunity to showcase the area’s premier baseball fields in Krueger Field at Tuffy’s Stadium.

“That’s why it’s such a great weekend. It’s pretty much always partnered with

Turtle Fest,” Mulcahy said. “There are a lot of things going on at the fairground with

the rodeo, so to have these teams come in, showcase Krueger Field and still have a great weekend of baseball built around Turtle Fest is even more important.”

The tournament kicks off with a pair of local teams squaring off at 10 a.m. on June 17, Wadena will open with Ottertail Central. The second game features Ottertail Central taking on Perham at 12:30 p.m. Taconite will take the field against Wadena at 3 p.m., which is followed by a 5:30 p.m. contest between Taconite and Perham.

The tournament continues with a pair of games on Sunday, June 18 at 10:30 a.m. with Taconite taking on Ottertail Central. It concludes with Wadena and Perham squaring off at 1 p.m.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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