LEGION IS BACK: Post 14 hosts opener today at Jack Brown Stadium
Over the past few years, Jamestown Post 14 American Legion baseball has struggled to compete with the bigger cities that have more players to choose from. This summer will be much different at Jack Brown Stadium.
Post 14 has dropped from the AA level down to A this season, something that coach Justin Connell has been pushing for.
"I was a big proponent to push into that A level because of the bigger Bismarck and Fargo teams," Connell said. "We now play schools with similar enrollments to us. I think it'll be a competitive level but we won't blow anyone away."
Teams in the Class A southwest division consist of the Bismarck Capitals, Bismarck Reps, Dickinson Vols, Mandan A's and Washburn.
"We have a chance to compete in every game," Connell said. "The biggest thing for us is making contact with the baseball and limiting errors."
Prior to today's 5:30 p.m. home opener against AA Fargo Post 400, the team had one practice Thursday morning. The roster won't be much different than the Jamestown High School ball club, as 10 Blue Jays will be returning after finishing up their prep season a week ago.
Drew Murray will be the only post-high school player on the roster. Four incoming seniors, nine juniors, a freshman and an eighth-grader make up the roster.
"I get the advantage of seeing those guys in the spring and that will be reflected in the summer," Connell said.
The coach said he will have eight or nine pitchers at his disposal. Some of the arms include Dawson Douty, Drew Murray, Ryder Lunzman, Kohl Kratz, Max Anderson and Aaron Kleven.
"We need to feel some things out," Connell said. "We want to put a few starters together and some relievers after that. As the summer progresses guys' arms will become sore."
"Right now I'm looking at three guys that will compete for those two opening games. I'm looking to start Drew Murray with a couple guys in relief but we'll be floating our choice around."
The batting lineup will look very similar to the Blue Jays' lineup this spring. The top of the order will go Douty, Lunzman, Chris Erickson and Tommy Falk but the rest is up in the air.
"That's the question I'm looking at," Connell said about a lineup that struggled at times this spring. "We're trying some different things out but we won't see any benefit until later down the road."
Some players who weren't on the JHS team include golfers Jeremy Williams and Darynt Carroll, eighth-grader Jakob Schempp and Medina-Pingree-Buchanan's Alec Horn.
Post 14 won two out of three against Post 400, today's opponent, last summer.
"They're a team that we were competitive with last year at the AA level," Connell said. "They called us and wanted to play and I thought it would be a good beginning test. They have a new coach so that might change what they're doing."