The American Legion season has begun and Eureka Post 177 looking to defend its District 10 championship.
Post 177 went 25-15 last summer. Eureka won District 10 championship for third consecutive season before falling just short in Zone 4 play.
In his second season at the helm, coach Alex Wolters believes he has another strong team back. He welcomes back six starters.
Chesterfield Post 556 has a veteran group this season as well. Coach Carl Schmittgens is entering his fifth year at the held. He has six starters back. Schmittgens also has five players in their fifth year with the program.
Here is a look at the local teams:
Chesterfield Memorial Post 556
2018 record: Went .500.
Coach: Carl Schmittgens. Entering his fifth year as head coach of Post 556.
Assistant coaches: Erich Thurmann, Mark Weaver, Paul Rose and Carl Schmittgens, Jr.
Returning number of starters: 6.
Players on team to watch for this summer: Adam Trunko (Chaminade/Colorado), Christian
Dacus (Parkway South/Arkansas), the 2018 team MVP and starting pitcher Matthew Fishering (CBC/Mizzou), OF/P Gavin McMurray (Marquette).
Newcomers expected to help: Liam Hipp (Parkway Central), Max Wolkey (Chaminade) and pitcher Logan Ostermann (Parkway Central), underclassmen Tyler Hagemann, Trenton Knehans, Tyler Rose and John Probst, all from Parkway North.
Team captains: Adam Trunko (Chaminade/Colorado) and Christian Dacus (Parkway South/Arkansas).
Team strengths: A veteran team.
Quote: “We are looking to improve on an overall .500 record from 2018,” Schmittgens said. “We will have a veteran team with six returning starters. We are excited to have a healthy Gavin McMurray after losing him for much of the 2018 season to injuries. We have a good group of players whose passion for the game makes them easy to coach. We have five players returning for their fifth year in the program in Trunko, Dacus, and Fishering, along with versatile Brendan Higgins (DeSmet/Rockhurst) and Jeremy Fox (Principia/TCU). We also return a solid core group of seniors including Tyler Weaver, Dylan Zurweller, Michael Dolan and Johnathan Stephens (all from Parkway West) and Zach Pavlisin (St. Louis University High.)
Eureka Post 177
2018 Record: 25-15. In postseason defeated Ballwin 6-5 (walk-off), and defeated Thoman Boothe 11-2 and 1-0 to win District 10 championship for third consecutive season. Defeated Cape Girardeau 4-1 in first round of Zone 4 Tournament, then lost to Festus 8-2 in the winner’s bracket championship game and lost to Cape Girardeau 10-0 in the losers bracket championship game to end the season. Cape Girardeau went on to advance to the Mid-South Regional in New Orleans, LA.
Coach: Alex Wolters is entering his second season as the head coach of the varsity team.
Assistant coaches: John Burton (bench coach), Jacob Wurtz (hitting coach for second season) and Noah Baker (infielders coach in his first season).
Returning starters: 6.
Players on team to watch for this summer: P Carter Beecher, 1B/LF Nathan Humphrey, 3B Rett Corley, CF Oliver Wolters, RF Ethan Gossman, Utility Ben Musgraves.
Newcomers expected to contribute: P Garrett Fagan, P Jackson Blackwell, P Nate Ulsas, C Connor Sensenney, C Dylan Yallaly, 2B Drew Holtmeyer, SS Drew Neptune, Utility Brendan Meyers.
Team strengths: The top of our rotation is strong. Carter Beecher and Garrett Fagan will compete with most 1’s and 2’s in the state. Our baserunning will be excellent and we’ll track the ball down very well in the outfield. Other areas will develop and grow as the coaching staff has more time with the players.
Team goals: We’ve implemented “Standards of Performance” that we believe lead to a strong culture and strong play on the field. They have to do with attitude, work ethic, as well as meeting certain statistical marks. There’s an emphasis on things such as limiting strikeouts offensively and throwing first pitch strikes as a staff. Outside of those standards, we’ve set the following goals: Advance to bracket play in each tournament we play in, win at least one tournament, finish first in District 10 during the regular season, win the District 10 tournament to advance to the Zone 4 tournament. This is one of the only times we’ll actually discuss winning. We stress the process, not the result.
Favorites to win District 10: Tie between Eureka Post 177 and Lemay Post 162.
Quote: “I like our group and know we’ll see constant improvement from them over the course of the season,” Wolters said. “Lemay’s group of seniors is strong. It’ll take everything we have to come out on top.”