When we last left the Washington Freshman Legion team, it was celebrating its second state title in three years.
But a lot has changed since the 2014 team earned the state crown at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
Post 218 enters 2015 with a new manager and many new players as it looks to repeat.
Jordan Bierbaum has returned as the team’s manager. Bierbaum was a coach for Scott Forrester last season and managed the Freshman team in 2013.
“Coach Forrester did a great job of taking all the different styles and making them play as one team,” Bierbaum said. “That is a difficult thing to do when you only get two months to make the team the best it can be. I have every faith that this team can achieve the goals we have set this year.”
Post 218 hosts its annual tournament starting Thursday at Dutzow Ballpark. It’s being played there as Washington High School is hosting its district at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
Washington will open against Ballwin Thursday at 6 p.m. and will play Creve Coeur Friday at 8:30 p.m. Playoff games will take place Saturday and Sunday.
“We are eager to get started,” Bierbaum said. “Nothing quite like Legion baseball in the summer. I hope people will come out to Ronsick Field during Legion games and enjoy the atmosphere.”
Also, only two players are back from last year’s championship team. Logan Gratza and Michael McElwain are the only returners from last year’s state championship team. Ten of the others have moved up to the Junior Legion team this season.
“We only have two returning players from last year’s team, Logan Gratza and Michael McElwain.” Bierbaum said. “Both will be expected to be leaders on this team. I think they both gained some knowledge last year on how to prepare for every game and every practice. Our team should lean on those two for answers during the season.”
New to the program this year are Kaden Bollmann, Brandon Repp, Jacob Dralle, Hunter Mehler, Caleb Cook, Evan Holdmeyer, Chris Broeder, Zach Harms, Josh Hendrickson, Ben Maune, Jon Amlong, Jacob Jinkerson, Brock Laughlin and Justin Heggemann.
Bierbaum said Bollmann, Dralle, Laughlin, Repp, Gratza, McElwain, Broeder, Jinkerson and Harms are infield candidates.
“I think we have a lot of moving parts and can plug a lot of these guys into different roles,” Bierbaum said. “I think they can all be successful, which will allow for good competition amongst themselves to strive to get a starting spot.”
Heggemann, Cook, Mehler and Holdmeyer could play both infield and outfield. Hendrickson, Maune and Harms are catchers.
The pitching rotation is expected to consist of Hendrickson, Gratza, Repp, Jinkerson and Amlong.
“Offensively we should have some pop,” Bierbaum said. “I know we will have some power in the middle of our lineup. Speed will be at the top of the lineup and hopefully a lot of contact hitters to round out the bottom half.”
Bollmann, Repp, Harms, Amlong, Jinkerson and Laughlin are on Washington High School’s freshman baseball roster. Repp and Gratza also play on the JV team.
Dralle, Mehler, Cook, Broeder, Hendrickson and Maune are on Borgia’s freshman roster. Heggemann plays on the JV team.