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For the American Legion baseball programs in Rapid City, it was an offseason of change. Both Post 22 and Post 320 have new managers who haven't been given any gifts from mother nature.

With opening day coming up fast, snow and cold temperatures have kept both teams confined to their indoor practice facilities. It's something neither Kelvin Torve at Post 22 and Rich Downs at Post 320 have been a fan of, but both said they are trying to make the best of a situation they can't control.

"The weather has been disappointing because it puts us behind schedule, we should have been outside for a couple of weeks minimum," Downs said. "We're trying to keep the mental part of the guys sharp, it puts us behind schedule, but one good thing everyone else is behind schedule."

Torve said although the Hardhats are also behind schedule, he knows it's a long season.

"We’ve been out three or four times, we’re limited to what we can do. We do a lot of individual skill stuff to start the spring but by now we would have liked to have been outside," he said. "I’m not concerned about it because it’s a long season, and we have plenty of time to catch up."

There can also be a positive to the winter weather, according to Torve.

"Boredom can be good as well because it can make you emotionally tough," he said. "Where it gets to be difficult is where you’re limited to what you can do, especially with the outfield."

Outfielders who can't snag fly balls, pitchers who have to pitch off different mounds, Downs said it impacts everyone.

"You have your impressions (of the team) indoors, but in my experience indoors can be left indoors and what you think is a strength is a weakness," he said. "We’ve got to get outside to see how things play out."

Besides the weather, both coaches said they have been optimistic about the strides both teams have been making in the offseason.

Downs said the Stars have been working on drills since November, but with a new coaching staff to install and the daunting task of losing eight seniors from last year's team, there's been a lot of work to do.

He took over in September after Paul Pool was let go after six seasons at the helm. Despite being ranked second in the state for the majority of the regular season, the Stars failed to reach the state tournament. They lost to eventual state runner-up Mitchell Post 18 and eventual state champion Pierre Post 8 in the regional tournament.

"We have an entirely new coaching staff and we’re trying to put things together, there's a mindset we’re trying to instill and its going to take some time," Downs said. "We’re putting our best foot forward and we’re hoping the players are receptive to it, the leaders will step forward and we’re encouraging everyone to be a leader. Those things take care of themselves.

"We’re tying to prepare in a humble manner so hopefully all this work will allow us to perform confidently."

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Torve, who was coaching Post 22's Bullets before taking the job as head of the entire baseball program, has Post 22 in his blood. The former Hardhat who also played in the Majors took over in November after Mitch Messer stepped down to take a position with the new collegiate wooden bat league based in Rapid City, The Expedition League.

Messer had been in charge of the program for six seasons, and Torve said that so far being responsible for all levels of the Post 22 program has been the biggest adjustment.

"There’s a lot more responsibility, I have the responsibility for 50-plus guys not just 15-16," he said. "The coaches have been great, it’s just different when you have three teams to concern yourself with instead of one."

He also has to deal with losing 10 players from the varsity program. Last season the Hardhats' streak of four straight state titles was broken when they also lost to Pierre and Mitchell in the state tournament. 

Still, he also has some talent coming back, including a good group of senior leaders that has been making his transition easier.

"It’s going to be a steep learning curve but I’m looking forward to it," he said. "The players are applying themselves and they really seem to care."

Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.