TAITE KLUMBâS RED-HOT TOURNAMENT
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
A number of baseball players had outstanding weekends at the 2021 VFW 14U State Baseball Tournament in Freeman July 23, 24, 25, but none were better than Mt. Vernon/Plankinton’s Taite Klumb. Not only did the 15-year-old from Ethan belt a home run over the left field fence each day, he didn’t record a single out, batting 1.000 for the tournament.
He was 4-for-4 the first day and walked twice, 3-for-3 on Saturday with a walk, and 2-for-2 on Sunday with three walks. In addition, he had nine RBI and scored 10 runs for the tournament.
Danny Frisby-Griffin, chair of the South Dakota VFW Baseball Committee, said that is unprecedented.
“Even at the 16U level,” he said, “we haven’t seen anything like that.”
Given what he did last weekend, you’d never guess that Klumb had never hit one over the fence prior to coming to Freeman, and you’d never guess that he struggled at the plate earlier in the year.
“But we stood him up tall, worked on getting his foot down and his hands through,” said Mt. Vernon/Plankinton coach Zach Harter. “You saw the results — three home runs and a batting average of 1.000 for the tournament. That’s record-breaking.”
Klumb’s love for the game runs deep and he says he’s been playing baseball since he was old enough to be on a field, largely because his dad was involved. “I love 14U,” he says. “It’s just nice to be around all these people.”
Klumb admits he was nervous going into the tournament and just wanted to do what he could to help the team. But rather than talking about what he did, he talked about what his teammates did that helped lead MVP to the consolation championship.
“If those other guys hadn’t gotten on base we wouldn’t have scored the runs that we did,” said Klumb, who would like to play baseball in college. “Just, thanks to my teammates.”
Harter said it’s Klumb’s bat speed that makes him such a strong hitter.
“He can get the head of the bat through the zone at an unbelievably fast pace,” he said. “That’s what gives him his power.” And, he added, he’s a joy to work with.
“He’s one of the more coachable kids I’ve ever had and one of the more pure hitters we’ve ever had,” said the coach, who noted that his team’s surprising extra-inning loss to Clark on Friday didn’t deter the boys from coming back stronger than ever and winning their next two handily. “They always play hard; they’re a great group of kids,” he said. “Always on time, they work hard and they’re good people. I’m lucky I get to coach them.”
As for the tournament itself, Harter said he was happy that Cansitota/Freeman had a chance to play in the championship game at their own tournament and had nothing but praise for the community.
“Freeman did an absolutely incredible job of hosting this tournament,” he said. “They did everything right and I hope you get some more.”