Extending the Run: Austin is continuing its state playoff ways, this time in the Legion tournament

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Austin grad Josi Bothun had to give it one more chance, and now he’s glad he did.

After a freshman spring with the Riverland Blue Devils, Bothun was the lone college baseball player for the Austin Post 91 Legion baseball team this summer and he’s now going to play in the state tournament for his hometown this week.

Bothun was a member of 2018 Austin team that came up one win short of the Minnesota Class AAA State Baseball Tournament, and he’s had a blast filling in with Post 91 this summer.

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Bothun, Grand Meadow’s Drew Copley and Lyle-Pacelli’s Zach Bollingberg and Tanner Murphy have helped fill in some gaps for Post 91, which is missing standouts Riley Wempner and Hunter Guyette from the high school season.

“We’ve always been good and it’s always a fun team,” Bothun said. “It’s different this year because there’s a lot of young guys that I’ve never played with. I’ve enjoyed it and we have a lot of young talent. What they did in the spring is impressive and everyone on this team is a solid player.”

Austin third baseman Josi Bothun comes up throwing against Kasson. Herald file photo.

Bothun has played pitcher and third base for Post 91 and he’s pumped at the chance to compete in his first ever state tournament. The last time Austin sent a Legion team to state was in 2015.

“We just have to not think too much and go out and have fun,” Bothun said. “When we think about it, we kind of get in our own heads.”

The players who played at state for Austin have now logged in nearly 40 games over the last four months, but shortstop Tony Ciola said they’re not upset about having to play in a few more contests.

“It’s been amazing. It’s the best four months ever and it’s been the best year of baseball,” Ciola said. “There are times in the season where it gets long, but when it gets down to the point where we have to win to keep playing baseball, it gets fun. That’s where we find our motivation.”

Austin will open play at the 16-team state tournament when it takes on Tri-City Red in Panseville at 10 a.m. Thursday. Tri-City Red features players from the Anoka area.

Ciola said Post 91 will be ready to bring it’s best.

“We’ve already proven that we can play with all of these top teams,” he said. “We just have to bring our energy and do our jobs.”

Games for the Division I state tournament will take place in Cold Spring, Paynesville, St. Martin and Watkins. The title game will be played in Cold Spring at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.