Rapid City Post 320 baseball has had an eventful year.
Last July, it failed to make the state tournament for the second straight season. In November, manager Rich Downs resigned, and in December, Brain Humphries was promoted from hitting coordinator and manager of the junior varsity's Shooters to manager of the Stars.
Now, with a new season ready to get started May 4 against Miles City, Montana, Post 320 just wants to focus on baseball, despite some rocky weather at times.
"The goal is always to win a state championship and move on from there, but we’re a pretty young group," infielder Ian Krump said. "We lost quite a bit of seniors from last year, so I think it's using the little bit of experience from our older guys. Being able to teach the young guys that you will fail, you have to accept it and be looking for it and get better."
Last season the Stars went 29-16 in Downs' first and only season at the helm.
It's the second straight season Post 320 will have to deal with having a new manager, but Krump, a Miles City College commit, said this season is different because players in the program are familiar with Humphries.
"It wasn’t a huge transition," he said. "We’re all pretty comfortable with him so that’s helped with the transition."
Humphries was the manager of Sturgis in 2017, so he said being in charge of a program isn't anything new to him.
He also said because he was part of the program last season, a lot of the players are familiar with him, which he thinks will help.
"It’s a pretty easy transition to be able to have pretty much the same coaching staff. The players are used to us, they’re used to my philosophy and we’ve tried to keep some of the same philosophies as Rich Downs," he said. "Being consistent and wanting to be focused on the baseball aspect instead of having a summer camp type deal. We want to keep getting better, move forward, and try to win as many games as we can."
One thing he is hoping to change is the mentality of the program.
Humphries was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 14th round after high school, but he chose to attend Pepperdine and he was later drafted by the Colorado Rockies.
He spent six seasons in Colorado's system, and said there's a certain work ethic it makes to become a professional, and he wants to install that into Post 320's program.
"I’m originally from San Diego, where baseball is everything. There’s a certain kind of mentality that a player needs," he said. "We need to focus on expecting to win instead of going out there and hoping or wanting to win. So I think being able to have that mental edge, it’s something we’ll continue to work on.
"We’ve made several strides in the last few months by being able to come in here, we haven’t had really any complications with what us, as a coaching staff, are looking for, they’re all very acclimated to our system."
Humphries also said the team will get a boost from some players who are still eligible for American Legion baseball, but are currently playing college baseball, who will be joining the team in the middle of May.
A player who will be joining the college ranks is Wyatt Hunt, who will be playing at Dakota Wesleyan. He said this is the season he's been playing for since he was a little kid.
"I’m really looking forward to it," he said. "I have one more year here if I decide to come back after college. This is the year I’ve been looking forward to."
Krump feels the same way, and said he's been impressed with how hard the team has worked during the winter months.
"It’s very exciting, being my last year here. It’s really exciting to be able to start the season," he said. "A lot of guys came in during the offseason and stayed after hours, they’re very dedicated."
The Stars lost a productive group of seniors from last season, but Hunt said he's been impressed with the group this season even though they are young.
He said the goal for this season goes beyond winning a state title. He wants to leave the program better than when he joined it.
"It’s a lot better than last year, at least we have a year of experience with Coach Humphries," he said. "To build up to a good program by the end of the year, into next year. We have a lot of younger guys so we want to get them the experience they need to become good ballplayers."
The Stars and Miles City will meet May 4 for a doubleheader from Pete Lien Field at 1 p.m.
Post 320 will also host the South Dakota School of Mines club baseball team in an exhibition game April 20 in a doubleheader that begins at 1 p.m.