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Legion ready for the unknown

Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Worthington Legion player Alex Purdy makes a throw from the outfield during practice Tuesday in Wilmont.1 / 2
Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Worthington Legion second baseman Tyler Hatterman scoops up a ball thrown from right field during practice Tuesday in Wilmont. 2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- The mysteries of the unknown can be a scary thing, but Worthington Legion Post 5 will do its best to face it when they come up against No. 7 seed St. Peter during the Division I, District 2 American Legion Baseball Tournament Thursday at Johnson Park in New Ulm.

"We don't know much about them as a team and it is the worst when you don't know anything about the team you are going up against," Post 5 coach Todd Rogers said. "We don't know what their pitchers are like or who their No. 1 hitter is. You never know what could happen when you go up against a team you've never seen play before. They could surprise us."

With so much still unknown about the St. Peter team, Rogers knows his team will just have to go out and play their game from the get-go.

"Our pitching will have to be solid, because if we are off that keeps our chances of moving on very low," Rogers said. "On offense, we will need to be aggressive at the plate and hope to hit the ball."

Pitching has been solid for Post 5 throughout the season and has helped the team compile a 14-3 record in the regular season. For Worthington to keep up its success, the pitching staff will need to stay focused and throw strikes.

"Our pitching staff has been doing really well this season," Rogers said. "Nate Ray has been consistently good for us, as have the other guys who have thrown for us. If our pitchers are going to do well, they need to hit their spots and get their off-speed pitches working right away.

"If we need to put in a reliever, I hope they come in and throw strikes to get guys out."

At the plate, Worthington will look to the top of its lineup to lead the way through the district tournament and knock in runs on a consistent basis.

"We are going to need to rely on guys like A.J. Hayenga, Blake Rogers and Lucas Henning to lead the way on offense," Rogers said. "A.J. has been doing really well at the plate recently. I think he is hitting around .500 right now. We will for sure need those guys to come up big for us at the plate against St. Peter."

Taking control of the game early is one thing Rogers would like Worthington do Thursday. And to do that, Post 5 will need to concentrate on the little things and get runners into scoring position any way possible.

"I would like us to come out and score some runs right away to get an early lead," Rogers said. "We will try to get things going with some small ball and try to get runners on the bases. We like to run and use our speed to get steals, but it will all depend on the situation we are in."

The Worthington/St. Peter game begins at 4 p.m., with the winner moving on to face the winner of Thursday morning's game between Sleepy Eye and Mankato American Friday at 11 a.m. at Johnson Park. The loser of the Worthington/St. Peter game goes plays the loser of Thursday's Fairmont/Mankato National contest Friday at 12:30 p.m. at Mueller Park.

"I just hope we can hit the ball in the game," Rogers said. "We need to be aggressive, but only swing at strikes and not at balls."