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American Legion Baseball: Post 5 hopes to see powerful bats

WORTHINGTON — The 2014 Post 5 American Legion team won’t be playing station-to-station baseball this summer, although with some of the hitters they’ll have they might be able to afford plugging in to the Earl Weaver strategy.

Weaver, the highly successful manager of the Baltimore Orioles from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s, was a big believer in the three-run home run. The 2014 Worthington Legion outfit should have a lot of pop in the middle of the lineup, but it will have some good speed, too. And speed is what plays into the strategies of first-year coach Jeff Nelson.

“Once we get guys on base, we’re going to be aggressive on trying to move them around,” Nelson said.

Post 5 opens the season Tuesday in a 6:30 p.m. home game against Pipestone.

Nelson, originally from Fairmont, moved to Worthington from St. Cloud and is employed in information technology at District 518. This summer marks his first varsity-level coaching position, but he comes with experience coaching pee wee baseball and football and junior high football.

He says his over-arching coaching philosophy hinges on teamwork. “I’m really about everybody working together as a team for the common goal,” he explained.

Post 5 will have two proven performers in 2013 Worthington High School graduates Blake Rogers and A.J. Hayenga. Rogers and Hayenga both contributed consistent offense for the Legion team last year, with Hayenga showing exceptional bat control and Rogers exceptional power. Two 2014 WHS graduates, catcher Alex Purdy and pitcher Ryan Lee, who were both named to the All-Southwest Conference team, add to the Legion team’s quality. Nelson says he has several more fine players who recently completed their junior seasons at WHS.

“We’re not hurting for pitchers. We’ve got plenty of guys who want to pitch,” said the new coach.

A year ago under coach Todd Rogers, Post 5 logged a strong season that ended with a second-place finish (a 5-4 loss to New Ulm) in the Division I District 2 tournament. Nelson says he’s met with Rogers prior to taking over the 2014 Legion squad and, along with watching several high school games, has been in close contact with Worthington Trojans head baseball coach Stacy Sauerbrei.

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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