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Holmstrom providing veteran leadership for Smittys

Brian Holmstrom, of the Aberdeen Smittys, right, sets to catch the throw as Ethan Bruns, of Sioux Falls Post 15 East, closes in on home plate in the eighth inning of last Thursday’s first game at Fossum Field. Bruns scored the winning run on the play as the East squad won the game 3-1. Photo by John Davis taken 6/23/2022

Brian Holmstrom had options.

The former Aberdeen Roncalli multi-sport athlete had just finished his first season of collegiate baseball at Presentation and was faced with a decision: head off to a collegiate summer league squad or exercise his final season of American Legion ball.

Holmstrom chose the Aberdeen Smittys.

“I was eligible for one more year with the Smittys,” Holmstrom said. “I felt there was unfinished business to do there. That’s why I came back.”

Holmstrom is proving to be a veteran voice on a roster filled with young talent, and he’s hoping to help leverage both into a championship caliber team.

“I knew this year we would have a good chance for success,” he said. “I knew the kids coming up had a mindset for winning games.”

That decision, at least so far, has worked out in Holmstrom – and the team’s – favor. The Smittys have piled up more wins than losses through the first half or so of the season, recently finishing ninth out of 35 teams at the Dakota Classic Tournament in Sioux Falls.

“I’m definitely thinking we have a good shot to go far at state,” Holmstrom said. “We’ve been competing with high level teams throughout the year. As a team, we just need to stay focused. We’re a good team, but the minute we start losing focus we start crumbling.”

Brian Holmstrom, of the Aberdeen Smittys, throws a pitch in relief during a game earlier this season against Watertown at Fossum Field. Photo by John Davis taken 5/5/2022

Holmstrom describes himself as more of a lead-by-example type, but said being one of the older players on the team has helped him find his voice a bit more.

Plus, playing primarily at the catcher spot, a change from his third base position with the Saints, makes him a logical focal point on defense.

“Catching is definitely a mentally and physically draining position,” Holmstrom said. “You can see the whole field from there.”

That vantage point also plays well into one of Holmstrom’s favorite parts of the game – catching baserunners off guard.

“I’m always scanning the field,” Holmstrom said. “Mentally you have to be aware of who’s on base. My strong suit as a catcher is throwing runners out, so I’m always aware if I can back-pick the guy at first.”

Holmstrom said he’s toyed with the idea of going into coaching, though he said the situation would need to be the right one. 

For now, though, he’s just focused on the task – and the team – at hand.

The Smittys are slated to head to Rapid City this weekend for the Post 320 tournament and are hoping to nip a recent five-game skid in the process.

“Sometimes kids want to be flashy and do all the hard stuff,” Homstrom said. “But really, it’s just basic stuff you need and you can win a lot of games.”

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