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Legion baseball: Luverne knows all about success

LUVERNE — Barry Shelton, who coaches the Luverne American Legion baseball team, says he’s confident his outfit can bounce back from last Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Blue Earth and capture the Division II, District 2 tournament.

And why not? Post 123 advanced past the district tournament twice in the past two years, and several of the summer players were members of the 2013 high school squad that won a state consolation championship last month.

Still, it won’t be easy. Luverne will need to win a Saturday game (4 p.m. start) in Milroy against the winner of an earlier elimination game between St. James and Springfield. Then, on Sunday, Post 123 will need to beat Blue Earth twice.

“I’m confident that we can do it. I’m confident that our team can come back three games,” Shelton said this week.

Luverne, 9-3, defeated Pipestone 8-3 last Saturday before losing by a run to Blue Earth. Against Blue Earth, Gunnar Olson pitched a strong game for Post 123, and it was only a two-run home run in the sixth inning that kept his crew from winning. A lack of timely hitting contributed to the loss.

Shelton said Luverne will need to hit the ball better to advance through the district tourney, but he has the hitters to do it. Post 123 is solid through the top and middle of the lineup with Skyler Wenninger hitting in the No. 2 spot, Kendall Meyer at No. 3, Josh Slieter at No. 4 and Olson at No. 5.

With a history of winning on their side, the Luverne players have something going for them.

This time, however, there is a new wrinkle added into the mix. Shelton notes that in the previous two years that the Legionnaires have won the district tournament, they have not had to play in an elimination game.

That’s a legitimate concern, but it’s far from being a deal-breaker.

“We’re not too used to being on the losing side,” Shelton said.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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