Almost.

The 2018 Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team came close to advancing beyond the Missouri State Tournament last season, placing third.

Washington (37-8) returns to the state tournament location, Sedalia, to open the season Saturday and Sunday in the Jimmy Glenn Tournament. Washington will play the Blue Springs A’s defending state champion Jefferson City Post 5, Lee’s Summit and Sedalia Post 642 during the two-day event.

Post 218 opens Saturday with a 3 p.m. game against Blue Springs’ Rod’s Sports A’s at 3 p.m. Washington then plays host Sedalia at 8 p.m.

Sunday games are at 10 a.m. against Lee’s Summit and 3 p.m. against Jefferson City Post 5.

Washington’s games against St. Clair and Sullivan this week had to be postponed due to St. Francis Borgia Regional reaching the MSHSAA Class 4 State Tournament. Post 218 has 11 players on that team.

The game at St. Clair has been reset for June 26 while Washington now will visit Sullivan July 3.

Post 218 had many highlights, including multiple wins over Post 5 as well as a split with state runner-up Cape Girardeau Post 63. 

Both Jefferson City and Cape Girardeau played in the regional tournament with Cape Girardeau replacing the Oklahoma state champion, Ada Post 72 Braves, in the Mid-South Regional. Oddly, Ada was a team Post 218 defeated during the season.

Mike Gardner’s team returns several veterans from last year’s squad and brings in newcomers to replenish the ranks.

Back this season are Maguire Landwehr, Joe Bauer, Tyler Glosemeyer, Adam Molitor, Spencer Hunter, Quinton Poepsel, Nick Helfrich and Joe Hackmann.

“All of our guys returning will have to make an impact and help lead the team,” Gardner said. We are really expecting them to lead us, especially the older guys who have played a couple of years at our level, Spencer Hunter, Quentin Poepsel and Maguire Landwehr. We are expecting Joe Bauer and Tyler Glosemeyer to play key roles in the outfield. Joe Hackmann and Nick Helfrich will again lead us on the mound. Adam Molitor will again be in a key position behind the plate.”

Hackmann (Washington) and Helfrich (St. Francis Borgia Regional) were two of the team’s top pitchers last year. Hackmann, who was double-rostered, went 7-1 with a 2.63 ERA over 42.2 innings. He allowed 44 hits while walking 16 and striking out 35.

Hackmann also can play first base and he batted .316 with six doubles, 23 runs and 33 RBIs for the Senior team last summer.

Helfrich was 7-0 with a 2.75 ERA over 48.1 innings. He allowed 48 hits and 14 walks while striking out 31.

Hunter, who is a senior at Borgia, is the top returning batter. He hit .380 with 11 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 50 runs, 44 RBIs and 42 walks. He can pitch, play first or outfield.

Poepsel, a Borgia graduate, played left field for Post 218 and batted .338 with four doubles, four triples, 33 runs and 32 RBIs.

Landwehr missed much of last season with an arm injury. The Washington graduate previously played with Post 218 and New Haven Post 366. He can play third base, shortstop and pitch.

Bauer, of Washington High School, is an outfielder and pitcher.

Glosemeyer, of Borgia, is a speedy outfielder.

Molitor, who graduated from Borgia this spring, was the team’s normal catcher last season. He batted .230 with five doubles, nine runs and 18 RBIs.

Post 218 brings in another player with Senior Legion experience this summer. Andrew Bruner moves over from Union Post 297. Union is not fielding a Senior Legion team this season.

Bruner pitched for the Post 297 Junior and Senior Legion teams last season, starting five games at the Senior Legion level. In the field, Bruner can play first base or third base and he batted .297 with two doubles, 12 runs and 13 RBIs.

Another newcomer is Louie Eckelkamp. The Borgia senior can play catcher or outfield and gives Post 218 additional depth behind the plate. In previous seasons, he played for select teams.

Moving up from last year’s Post 218 Junior Legion team, which also placed third in the state tournament, are Levi Weber, Jared Schrader, Josh Garbs, Jack Czeschin, Bryce Mayer and Brandon Stahlman.

Weber, a Washington High School player, is an outfielder who could challenge for the center field spot.

Schrader was the top relief pitcher for his Post 218 teams in recent years. He goes to Borgia.

Garbs, a Borgia athlete, can play second base or outfield.

Czeschin and Mayer have been Borgia’s keystone combo at second base and shortstop, respectively. Both played for the Post 218 Juniors last summer. Czeschin can catch while Mayer also pitches.

Stahlman was one of the top pitchers for the Post 218 Juniors last summer. This spring, he’s pitched, played infield and outfield for Borgia.

“We will really be relying heavily on several new players on the infield,” Gardner said. “We expect Jack Czeschin, Bryce Mayer and Brandon Stahlman to all see significant playing time. Louie Eckelkamp will also add some pop in the lineup with his bat and will see time behind the plate and in the outfield. Andrew Bruner will be a big help on the mound in a starting role and Jared Schrader will provide great depth to our pitching staff. Levi Weber, Josh Garbs, and Wil Heggemann will also push guys for playing time. This just might be one of the deepest teams we have had in years. I am also expecting our team speed to be a strength.”

Gardner returns as the team’s manager and he’s being helped by coaches Aaron Miller, Kevin Juergens and Mic Fox.

Overall, Gardner said Post 218 is looking for pitching depth, just like every other team.

“I am always most concerned with our pitching and we really need some of the new guys like Andrew Bruner, Bryce Mayer and Brandon Stahlman to step up and provide some quality starts behind Joe and Nick,” Gardner said.

Bruner, Hackmann, Helfrich, Mayer, Stahlman, Hunter, Molitor, Heggemann and Schrader are the primary pitchers.

Gardner feels Post 218 will be in the midst of the Ninth District pennant chase and feels St. Charles, Elsberry and Wentzville to be firm challengers for the title.

Gardner feels overall team speed will be a positive.

“We always try to find any advantage we can,” Gardner said. “I really think we can continue to improve on our base running and take extra bases, especially with some of the speed we will have this year.”

Behind the plate, Gardner said Molitor and Eckelkamp are the first to put on the gear.

Hackmann, Hunter and Heggemann lead the first basemen.

At second base, Czeschin, Garbs and Weber will be looking for playing time.

At third, it’s Landwehr and Stahlman looking to fill the hot corner.

Mayer and Stahlman are shortstops.

Poepsel figures to start in left while Glosemeyer and Weber are fighting for the center field starting job. Bauer and Heggemann are slated for right field.