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Connor Seefeld is one of eight seniors on the Mandan High School baseball team this season.

Nobody could blame the Mandan High baseball team if it needs a few innings to adapt on Friday.

When the Braves take the field in Dickinson for their season opener, it'll be the first time they've played on an actual diamond all spring.

Despite the odd start to the season, head coach Dewitt Mack is looking on the bright side.

"We're pretty good at indoor baseball right now," Mack joked. "I'm not really sure how that will translate when we get on the field and see some live pitching instead of ceilings, batting cages and nets."

The Braves have not been cooped up entirely. They've been able to get outside at Starion Sports Complex, but that's not a diamond. Mandan Memorial Ballpark's turf project is not quite finished, however, they do have hopes of playing home games in May. 

Pulling the turf into place is about a 2 1/2 week operation. The targeted start date to place the turf is April 15, which would set up the Braves to play four home games in May, in a best-case scenario. Their April home games will be played at the Sanford Sports Complex.

"We do have contingency fields lined up if we need to do that," Mack said.

Despite the uncertainty, Mack said it's been business as usual.

"Right now the guys are working their tails off, being hard-nosed and getting after it," Mack said. "That's kind of Mandan baseball. Don't complain and keep working hard to get better."

Having a veteran roster also has helped.

"We have eight seniors that have played a lot of baseball," Mack said. "They provide good leadership and are focused on working hard every day."

Among the seniors returning is all-region shortstop and pitcher Evan Arenz.

"Evan's a good guy to have back. He's a good leader. He does a nice job on the mound and he's a very good shortstop," Mack said.

Easton Andresen, Connor Seefeld and Jacob Weiand -- all seniors -- have extensive experience pitching. They'll be throwing to Jackson Zittleman, one of the top catchers in the conference.

Other seniors on the roster include infielders Grant Froehlich and Cole Schmidt plus outfielder Keaton Meschke.

Also among the 16-player varsity roster is hard-hitting sophomore Jaxon Duttenhefer, who plays both corner infield spots. Mandan's baseball numbers buck the trend with 36 kids out total, including two JV teams.

"Those are good numbers for us," Mack said. "It's great to have that many kids wanting to play."

The Braves figure to be contenders in the West again. They played their best ball late last season, earning a trip to the state tournament.

"We're pretty optimistic. We just need to get outside and get our feathers wet," Mack said. "We're raring to get out and go play."

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Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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