Jacob Mulder Memorial Game highlight of ‘24 Rats schedule: New-look Valley Rats will feature former Lynx players, new team manager

Tom A. Savage, Contributing writer

Jaxon Haase, team manager

Tom A. Savage

Contributing writer


The Fourth Annual Jacob Mulder Memorial Game highlights the 2024 Valley Rats amateur baseball season. The annual event honoring one of the team’s founders who died in an automobile accident in 2021 will be played at First National Bank Field on June 13 with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.

This year’s opponent will again be the Sioux Falls Brewers. The Brewers played in the annual event last year and Josh Mulder, Jacob’s brother and manager of the team through last season, said the Sioux Falls team would remain on the schedule for the Memorial game moving forward.

Brewers manager Matt Leedom has a long history with the Mulder family. Both families began building South Dakota amateur baseball teams in 2014 and both went through the growing pains of the process.

“The Mulder family and the legacy of Jacob is worth celebrating and worth putting on a good game,” Leedom said after last year’s Memorial game. “It means a lot to the Brewers to be a part of that game.”

Although this year’s game is a Sioux Empire League game, it won’t count towards the official league record and is being considered an exhibition game.

“We want to get everyone on both teams to play because it’s such an important game,” Mulder said. “We want everyone to be a part of it.”

The game would come into play as a tiebreaker at the end of the year.

Just like in year’s past, Jacob’s daughter, Reagan, will once again throw out the first pitch. Raegan was born in October of 2021. She and her father never met due to Jacob’s fatal accident four months earlier. Raegan’s footprints and handprints are embedded into the concrete surrounding a bench in Jacob’s honor near the left field baseline.

Her first pitches in 2022 and 2023 were an emotional moment. It’s likely that will be the case again next week Monday.

Also, like in year’s past, money will be raised this year for the Jacob Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is intended for Brandon Valley graduates pursuing their baseball or softball career collegiately. A 50/50 raffle along with free will donations will be accepted.

Last year, the Brewers, along with Leedom’s real estate firm and Scheels, all gave towards the fund.


New Rats manager

Josh Mulder has been the manager of the Rats since their inception in 2014. Following his brother’s fatal accident in 2021, Mulder said he knew his days were numbered as the team’s manager.

But he stuck with it, mostly he said, in honor of Jacob. He said he didn’t want to see the team cease operations.

Now three years removed from the accident and with four children at home, Josh has moved into a General Manager role. Brandon native Jaxon Haase has been named the team’s new manager.

“He’ll be great,” Mulder said of Haase. “He’s a good Brandon kid who loves baseball. It was time for me to be done. I have no ambition to probably ever take it up again.”


2024 outlook

The Rats made the semifinal round of the Class A state tournament in 2020. It’s the furthest they’ve ever gotten in the state tourney, but they’ve never been back.

Haase said he’s focused on getting the Rats back in contention this summer, albeit with an almost entirely new roster.

Haase is a 2020 Brandon Valley grad who played his college baseball at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. He said he’s banking on former Brandon Valley players who he’s played with in the past to help rejuvenate the Rats roster.

Haase has played for the Rats the past two summers and will once again take the diamond in 2024. This time, however, he’ll be teaming up with several former Lynx players.

“There’s a lot of guys who are a couple of years younger than me from high school, so I think it’s going to be a fun year to see what we can bring,” Haase said. “I’ve mentored a lot of these guys already. A lot of them are coming back to play just because I’m the manager. I’m pretty excited to be playing with them again.”

The 22-year old Haase has coached the Brandon Valley Junior Legion team for the last two seasons.


The Brandon Valley Journal


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