It was one of the hottest days of the year, but that didn’t deter the Sioux City East baseball team from working to build off of last season.
“Our kids understand the amount of time and the effort that it takes to be a championship caliber team,” said Head Coach Kevin Dicus. “We’re just trying to focus on the things we can control and right now that’s just how hard we work.”
In 2018, the Black Raiders were the Missouri River Conference champions, something this team had been working towards for years.
“We went through a lot, all the way from my freshman year to this year, it’s been a great journey,” said senior pitcher/first baseman Nate Zyzda. “We started out 13 and 20, or something like that, and now we’re conference champs last year.”
“To win the conference isn’t easy,” Dicus said. “Now that we’ve done that, there’s no doubt we’re going to get everybody’s best.”
But East failed to make it to the state tournament, so now they’re using that chip on their shoulder to push forward into this season.
“We ran into a tough team at the Substate final, Johnson, and we ended up getting them on the schedule this season and we’re pumped about that because we want redemption honestly,” Zyzda said.
“Johnson last year, that was a tough loss for us,” said senior second baseman Drew Olson. “But every day in practice we’re grinding, getting better each rep and hopefully by the end of the season we’ll get to where we want to be: at Principal Park.”
The team did lose some important pieces: a catcher, a centerfielder, and a closer, but this team has the drive to succeed again.
“This year, we haven’t really come in complacent at all,” said Alec Patino, the Junior captain and third baseman. “We still want to be at the top, so we keep working hard and put our nose to the grindstone.”
“We’re looking forward to [the beginning of the season],” Dicus said. “Our guys are eager to get going, get after somebody other than themselves but we’re eager to get going.”
For the first game of the season, the Black Raiders will travel to Le Mars to take on the LMCS Bulldogs as their first step towards a conference title defense, and whatever comes after that.