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Cadyn Schwabe nears stolen base record in standout summer

Outfielder Cadyn Schwabe runs to third base during the Sabre Dogs' July 2 contest. In 34 games with Souris Valley, Schwabe has accrued a team-leading 40 stolen bases, a .473 average and 12 extra-base hits. Ryan Ladika/MDN

Before suffering an injury to his left wrist at the beginning of July, Cadyn Schwabe’s 2021 summer campaign with the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs was

bordering on historic.

The outfielder had appeared in all but two of Souris Valley’s first 36 games, and on the strength of his team- and league-leading .473 batting average and .574 on-base percentage, he had accrued 40 stolen bases. The Expedition League’s single-season stolen base record of 44, set by former Sabre Dog Mason Dinesen in 2018, appeared destined to be shattered by Schwabe, who needed only four more to match the mark with over half the season remaining.

The dream came crashing down with the injury he suffered in the outfield during the Dogs’ 9-2 July 6 defeat to the Badlands Big Sticks. Souris Valley’s outstanding leadoff hitter has been sidelined since, anxiously hoping he can rehab his wrist back to 100 percent and return to his team before the end of the season.

“It’s still kind of up in the air,” he said during the last week of July of his chances of a possible return. “I’ve begun to throw and play catch with it, but swinging a bat is still going to need probably a week or two. I’ll talk to (head coach Alex) Miklos and see what he thinks, but as of now it’s still up in the air. I don’t know.”

During Souris Valley’s opening night 16-2 victory over the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks May 25, Schwabe gave Sabre Dogs fans an early taste of his full offensive capabilities and what was yet to come from the outfielder’s potent bat throughout the first half, going 3-for-5 with a double, three runs scored, one RBI, one walk and four stolen bases.

He would thieve a bag in each of the Dogs’ next two games as well, building the first of his four separate stolen-base streaks of three or more games. The most impressive of those four was his June 17-23 five-game stretch that saw Schwabe steal 12 bases on the strength of three games with at least three robberies.

Despite sitting out for almost an entire month, Schwabe still held the league lead in stolen bases entering play July 27, as well. His four bags on Opening Night also marked the first of three games in which he would steal four bases, the third of which came just three games before he would suffer his injury.

“I actually had no clue about it,” he said of how close he got to the record. “I was told about it when I was around 35, so then I started thinking it would be a pretty cool achievement. The whole season it wasn’t on my mind, I was just looking to be aggressive. Stealing is a thing you have to keep working on. It’s an art. You have to stay sharp and keep working at it.”

Even with Schwabe’s prowess on the basepaths a live, nightly highlight reel, most of the fanfare and attention sat squarely on the broad shoulders of first baseman Beau Brewer as he broke a league record of his own with his 31-game hit streak and 34-game on-base streak to begin his season.

A 3-for-28 slump that began July 6 and lasted over a week snapped the latter and saw Brewer’s overall numbers dip a bit, and Schwabe saw himself quietly pull ahead of his teammate as the frontrunner for the Expedition League’s 2021 MVP honors.

In addition to his robust average, OBP and stolen base marks, Schwabe also led the league in runs scored (60), earned the eighth-most hits (62), and posted an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.177 to accompany a glistening 11:30 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

“It was good,” he said of his season as a whole. “I got into a little bit of a groove, felt comfortable at the plate, and playing with the guys around me, it made it easy. People saw we are an aggressive team. We are always looking to run and hit-and-run, and do things like that. With the good coaches we have there and the good players around me, it was just a lot of fun.”

Schwabe pointed to the ever-present need to stay locked in to each game from first pitch to the final out as the source of his success not only on the basepaths, but in all facets of his game. Watching the opposing pitcher even while Schwabe is in the dugout awaiting for his next trip to the plate gives him more time to pick up on the little hitches or quirks in the hurler’s delivery to better serve his knowledge of the opposing arm when he safely reaches first base.

As someone who he described as “not a guy who drives the ball a lot,” Schwabe has also worked to incorporate more power into his game throughout the summer season in Minot.

In 60 games with Des Moines Area Community College during the 2020-21 season, the outfielder amassed eight doubles, six triples and three home runs for a total of 17 extra-base hits. He had almost matched that total in a little fewer than half the games with the Dogs this summer, cranking eight doubles, three triples and one long ball in 34 games before the wrist injury.

“That’s something I’ve been working on and need to continue to improve on, is driving the baseball and working into good hitters’ counts,” he said. “My plan this summer was to just keep it as simple as I could and eliminate extra movement in my swing. The second big thing is pitch selection. Guys get in bad grooves, and a lot of times it’s not their swing, it’s their pitch selection. They’re swinging at bad pitches, pitchers’ pitches. I wanted to be precise in that manner, and when you’re swinging at good pitches you’ll have a lot more of a success rate.”

He is still holding out hope to return to the Sabre Dogs’ lineup before the season’s conclusion in mid-August and finish what he started, but if things do not shake out that way, he should be more than ready to take the field with his new college program next spring.

Schwabe will be returning home, or at least close to it, when he joins the baseball program at North Dakota State University this fall. After spending two years at DMACC, he will enter in to his third year academically, but will still have three seasons of eligibility with the team.

A native of Thompson, North Dakota, Schwabe wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to be closer to home. NDSU sits about an hour south of Thompson along highway 81 and I-29 in Fargo, North Dakota, and the proximity to his hometown also afforded him to get to know the program long before his college days.

“I’ve always watched them when I was young, and following them, I knew a couple guys a few years back who played there,” he said. “So it was always a place that I wanted to play and wanted to be. They have really good coaches there and unreal facilities in Fargo, and with the culture that they have there, it’s something that I felt fit what I was looking for.”

First things first, though, Schwabe is concerning himself with rehabbing his wrist to full health, and would love nothing more than to embark on a deep postseason run with his Souris Valley teammates. Getting another crack at breaking the league stolen bases record would also be an added bonus on an outstanding summer season.

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