Drawing players from six different schools, Washington Post 218 Junior Legion Manager Phillip Kleekamp feels it should be an exciting season for his team.
“We are looking forward to getting the season started,” said Kleekamp. “With players from six different schools, we feel the talent in and around the Washington area will be well represented. The team will consist of players from Washington High School, St. Francis Borgia, Pacific, New Haven, Hermann and Chaminade.”
Post 218 starts its season with the annual Post 218 Memorial Day Weekend Tournament, which starts Friday, May 25.
Washington will take on House Springs at 6 p.m. with Daniel Boone meeting Ballwin at 8:15 p.m.
On Saturday, May 26, Washington will play Rock Memorial at noon. Rock Memorial then plays Daniel Boone at 2:30 p.m. Washington returns to play Daniel Boone at 5 p.m. and House Springs meets Ballwin at 7:30 p.m.
Action on Sunday, May 27, starts with Ballwin meeting Rock Memorial at noon. Washington plays Ballwin at 2:30 p.m. House Springs plays Rock Memorial at 5 p.m. and Daniel Boone at 7:30 p.m.
The championship game between the top two pool finishers will be played Monday, May 28, at 5 p.m.
The tournament will allow metal bats, but they must meet BBCOR standards. High School rules apply with courtesy runners allowed. A coin flip will determine the home team.
The event will start what Kleekamp feels should be a successful season. Kleekamp knows success. In his managing career with Post 218, his teams have lost to the eventual state champions during the past two seasons.
In 2010, Washington finished second in the Freshman Legion State Tournament. In 2011, Post 218 placed second in the Zone 1 Junior Legion Tournament, falling to Jefferson City Post 5 Aflac.
Kleekamp has plenty of help this season with Phil Mallinckrodt, Kent Getsee and Mic Fox on the staff.
“Coach Phil Mallinckrodt will be back for his fourth year on the bench,” Kleekamp said. “Phil does a great job with the boys due to his vast knowledge of the game. We have had a lot of success the last three seasons and expect nothing less this year.”
Getsee garnered the program’s last major championship, the 2005 Junior Legion district, state and Mid-States Regional trophies.
“A seasoned coaching veteran will be back on the coaching staff as well,” Kleekamp said. “Kent Getsee is returning to the coaching ranks after taking a year off. Kent has had much success in the program, including a state and regional championship with the 2005 Junior Legion team, and we are excited that he will be back on the staff.”
Mic Fox last year was a player for the Post 218 Senior Legion team. A college student this year, Fox is helping by coaching the Post 218 Juniors.
“A familiar face will be making his coaching debut this year as well,” said Kleekamp. “Mic Fox, who was a key member of the Senior Legion squad that placed second in the state last year, will be a valuable part of the coaching staff as well. Post 218 is always happy to see former players want to come back and continue to be a part of the program. Mic has had much success as a player and will be able to relate well with the players.”
As for the players, two are back from last season’s Junior Legion squad.
Pete Coulter, a Washington High School player, is the most experienced player. Justin Schuler saw time as a double-rostered player between the Junior Legion and Freshman Legion teams last season.
“Pete Coulter will be back and will help us on third as well as on the mound,” Kleekamp said. “He was an All-Star last year on the Junior Legion level, and we expect another solid year from him. Justin Schuler will be a big part of our pitching staff. Justin should also see time in the outfield as well. Both players were a part of Washington High’s varsity squad this year. Their experience will be valuable this summer.”
From there, Kleekamp has a mix of players who have been involved with Post 218 and are new to the program.
Todd Kleekamp enters his third season in the Post 218 program and will see time on the infield for Washington. He saw some varsity action at Borgia this spring.
Ross Seitter and Garrett Schoenfeld of New Haven should challenge for playing time once the New Haven high school season comes to an end.
Anthony Chance comes from Chaminade, where he pitched, played first base and outfield for the Flyers. Tyler Straatmann and Zeth Boyer come from Pacific High School and were a part of that successful program this spring.
The bulk of the players on the squad are promotions from last year’s 28-7 Freshman Legion program. Kleekamp said that group includes Sam Katzung, Aaron Meyer, Brian Trigg, Luke Knight, Teddy Harrison and Scott Byrne.
Newcomers Kevin Birk and Grant Ruediger also will see playing time and are expected to contribute. Ruediger is the lone Hermann High School representative on this year’s team.
With the majority of the players having some sort of pitching experience, Kleekamp feels that will be the strongest part of this year’s team.
“Our pitching depth will definitely be our strength,” Kleekamp said.
From there, Kleekamp thinks it will be interesting to see how the players from six different schools come together to make a team.
“The other coaches and I are excited to see how all the players from the different area programs will come together,” Kleekamp said. “There is a lot of talent here, but there is also a lot of talent in a very tough Ninth District. Our goal is always to win the district regular season and tournament championship. It will be a tough season, but if we can play our game and focus on doing all the fundamentals correctly, we should be a tough team to beat. There should be a lot of excitement on the Junior Legion level this summer at Ronsick Field.”