For the 14th consecutive year, Marshall baseball marks the transition from the high school baseball season to the Legion season with its U.S. Bank Mid-Summer Classic wood bat tournament.
Taking place Friday-Sunday at Legion Field and Alumni Field at Southwest Minnesota State, the 2012 edition of the Mid-Summer Classic features six teams from the upper midwest.
"The tournament falls on the same weekend as the Minnesota State High School League state tournament, but it is always well run," said Marshall head coach Chace Pollock.
Five of the six teams in the field are returning from last year's Mid-Summer Classic. Pool A is comprised of the Marshall Mudcats, Metro Fargo (N.D.) and Albany; while Pool B has Coon Rapids, Waterloo-Valley (Neb.), and, making their first appearance at the wood bat tournament, Elk River. Each of the tournament's 12 games will feature a team from Pool A pitted against a team from Pool B.
The names of the returning teams should be familiar to Mudcats players, according to Pollock.
"Coon Rapids and Albany have been coming here for many years," Pollock said. "More recently Metro Fargo and Waterloo-Valley have been coming. I expect they will continue to come back for a long time. ... Every team is different each year, but you can expect good baseball out of programs like Coon Rapids and Albany.
"The tournament is very well run and well recognized," Pollock added. "You can always expect good baseball."
For the Mudcats, the opponents will not be the only familiarity. By virtue of five Mudcat players currently splitting time with area amateur baseball clubs, the Mudcats should feel more at ease swinging a wood bat.
"It's not as much of a shell shock as it used to be," said Pollock, who played in the Mid-Summer Classic for the Mudcats during his high school years. "As a coach, it doesn't change what I'm trying to do, but the experience playing with a wood bat should give us a little extra pop when we switch back to aluminum bats."
All six teams are in action on Friday at Legion Field as play begins at 2 p.m. with Albany matched up against Elk River. Metro Fargo takes on Coon Rapids at 4 p.m., while the Mudcats begin their tournament at 6 p.m. against Waterloo-Valley.
On Saturday, the Mudcats face Elk River at 3 p.m. and Coon Rapids at 7 p.m. Both games will be at Legion Field.
Single game, day passes, and tournament passes will be available at Legion Field both Friday and Saturday.