Legion baseball: For Windom, summer is the time to learn
WINDOM -- In the spring, the Windom Eagles high school baseball team produced a season for the ages. For the first time since 1987, the once-dominant program qualified a team for the state tournament.
In the summer, many of the younger players who toiled for those Eagles are getting much-needed playing time to develop into the leaders for 2014.
The Windom American Legion team, coached by Doug Kneeland and Brad Schlomann, are a divided bunch. Players eligible for Legion ball with the most experience are doing much of their summer baseball duty playing in the amateur ranks. Those with the least experience are learning the game with the Legion team.
"It's a young team. They're enthusiastic about playing ball. It's just that they need to play more ball," said Kneeland.
Windom sports a 2-7 Legion record heading into a scheduled Monday doubleheader in Jackson. On Tuesday, the team opens Sub-District B tournament play with a first round game against Mountain Lake in Windom (6 p.m. start).
Four players who will be high school seniors next fall lead the club. They are pitcher-shortstop Zach Bartosh, leftfielder-second baseman Bryton Syverson, pitcher-catcher Andrew Larson and centerfielder Jacob Gotto.
The key for Windom in the upcoming tournament, said Kneeland, is improving on defense while maintaining the pace in hitting and pitching.
"We're still working the kinks out on defense. But our pitching and hitting is coming along real well," Kneeland said.
There are five teams in Sub-District B. Besides Windom and Mountain Lake, teams hoping to advance into the next round of tournament action include Redwood Falls, Springfield and Wabasso. Kneeland sees Redwood Falls as the tournament favorite, with Springfield as the other favorite based on its solid pitching.
But three teams will go on to the next round.
"If the kids can hit the ball like they have been, and our pitching continues ... If we can hold the mistakes down, we could be in there," Kneeland said.
The second round of the double-elimination tournament is Thursday at Springfield. The Windom/Mountain Lake winner plays Redwood Falls in a 3:30 p.m. game while Springfield takes on Wabasso at 5:30. A consolation bracket game will be played Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The tournament championship is 3:30 p.m. July 12 in Springfield. An elimination game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. with a consolation bracket seeding game (the winner is the next round's No. 2 seed and the loser is the No. 3 seed) at 7:30 p.m.