Youthful Legion team returns solid corps
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003
A senior-laded 2002 Austin American Legion Post 91 baseball team finished third in the district with a 20-12 overall record last season. Lost from that squad are 11 seniors, but coach Bob Stratton's cupboard is anything but bare.
Post 91 returns a solid corps of four seniors and seven juniors who saw regular varsity time at Austin High this spring for what might be Austin's year to return to the state tournament. The local Legion contingent opens its season tonight at 7 p.m. at Marcusen Park against Fairmont.
"Even though we will be quite young we feel we have the nucleus to field a strong team," Coach Stratton said. "We are hopeful that strong pitching and defense will be enough to carry the team until some of our younger players can adapt to the pitching they will be facing."
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Austin's Kyle Rizzi and Lyle/Pacelli product Nels Nelson will be the strength of Post 91's pitching staff this summer. Juniors Sean Selmecki, Andy Swank, Paul Leathers and Nate Johnson also delivered from the mound for AHS this past spring, keeping plenty of arms in the pen for Austin to rely on.
Post 91 has had trouble scoring runs consistently in the recent past, but with a pitching staff so ample, one run may be enough on occasion.
Nelson, a Lyle graduate, tossed a no-hitter this year for L/P and helped carry the team to a sub-section runner-up trophy and a third-place finish in Section 1A. Rizzi, an AHS graduate, was too often a hard-luck loser for the Packer pitching staff.
"Offensively we will be working hard in practice to improve and remove some question marks," Stratton said. "We are counting on some of our younger kids to improve very quickly and feel they are up to the task."
The defense for Austin's Legion team has commonly been outstanding, starting this year with infielders Swank, Nelson, Joe Kroc, and catcher Adam Edge. John Bastyr is a likely candidate to start at first base.
Brad Wiechmann has not played high school ball for the last two seasons, but he returns to the Legion team as a valuable utility player again this summer.
Jordan VanProosdy, a senior who played outfield for Austin this spring, is an incumbent to an outfield position. Nate Johnson was the starting center fielder for the Packers this spring, and the third spot is as yet up for grabs.
Juniors Jordan Lucas, Scott Hanson and Steve Korfhage will be expected to contribute as well.
Seniors -- Kyle Rizzi, Nels Nelson, Jordan VanProosdy, Brad Wiechmann. Juniors -- Joe Kroc, Jordan Lucas, Sean Selmecki, John Bastyr, Nate Johnson, Andy Swank, Scott Hanson, Paul Leathers, Adam Edge, Steve Korfhage.
June 10Fairmont, 7 p.m.
June 13-15at Bloomington Tournament
June 17Rochester Patriots, 7 p.m.
June 18at Rochester Redhawks, 6:30 p.m.
June 20-22at Faribault Tournament
June 24Rochester Redhawks, 7 p.m.
June 26at Waseca, 6:30 p.m.
June 28Winona, noon
July 1Owatonna, 7 p.m.
July 3-6Austin Tournament
July 12LaCrescent, 3 p.m.
July 14at Rochester Patriots, 7 p.m.
July 17at Rochester A's, 6 p.m.
July 19at Fairmont, 6 p.m.
July 20Eden Prairie, 1 p.m.
July 21Waseca, 7 p.m.
July 23Rochester A's, 6 p.m.
July 25at Owatonna, 7 p.m.
July 29-Aug.1Districts at Owatonna
Aug. 6-10State at Rochester