VIRGINIA — Post 239 will have a young team heading into this year’s Land of the Loon American Legion Baseball Tournament, but head coach Kody Lindgren believes strongly in his squad.
“We’re going to be young, but we have a young strong core,’’ the team’s new coach said, “so I’m not too worried. We’re going to be competitive.’’
With the first tournament game at 2 p.m. against Taconite today at Stock Field, the team will have good senior leadership in Jack Perala, Carter Thome, Austin Harvey and Grant Phillips.
In addition, “all the younger kids from the Junior American Legion team are excited to play up.’’
Those Junior American Legion team members that are expected to play and contribute to the senior team include the following: Nick Peters, Mason Carlson, Joey Pucel, Daniel Moore, Cole Schaefer, Ryan Scherf, Tommy Nemanich, Andrew Bird, Logan Nordby and Landin McCarty.
Despite being younger, the Virginia American Legion club has a number of strengths to fall back on.
“Leadership of course with the four seniors,’’ Lindgren said. “We’ve got good seniors that can pitch well. I’m just hoping the Junior Legion team can step up pitching and fielding. They’ll be very competitive. I’m not too worried. They’re a very talented group.’’
As far as what the team needs to work on, the coach said it’s “more of a confidence thing for the younger kids playing up. After a couple of games, they’ll be ready to go.’’
Ironically, Virginia had its first game of the season Thursday at Taconite and plays them again today.
Lindgren had some simple advice heading into the games.
“I’m just telling them to focus on getting better and playing hard.’’
As far as the six-team tournament goes, Lindgren is looking forward to it after playing in it all the time growing up. “I’m excited to coach it finally.’’
In Lindgren’s junior year of high school, his team took home third place. “That was super exciting. It’s just fun to make your city proud. That’s the goal.’’
In addition to Virginia’s opener against Taconite, Friday’s other games will see Ely take on International Falls at 4:30 p.m. and Lakeville South take on the Broncos at 7 p.m..
On Saturday, Thunder Bay will face Taconite at noon, Ely will play Lakeville South at 2:30 p.m. and Virginia will host Thunder Bay at 5 p.m.
On Sunday, the consolation final will be held at 10 a.m., followed by the third place game at 12:30 p.m. and the title tilt at 3 p.m. The teams in each game will be determined by their win-loss records in pool play Friday and Saturday. Pool A includes Taconite, Virginia and Thunder Bay, while Pool B includes Ely, Lakeville South and International Falls.
The new coach hasn’t seen any of the other teams yet, but is positive of one thing.
“I’m sure we’re going to have to compete in each game with how young we are. I know we can do that with out guys. We just want to focus on playing hard and representing our city well. We’ve got a good group of guys and we’re just excited to compete and hopefully win a couple of games.’’
Besides having four seniors, Lindgren said the team is pretty young with so many Junior Legion players taking part.
After a 4-0 start to the season by the Junior Legion squad, the coach is feeling good about that.
“They hit the ball well and our pitching’s really strong for the Junior Legion team. I’m hoping a lot of them can step up for the Legion team.’’
In addition to the games, concessions will be available at Stock Field.
Lindgren invited anyone that is interested to stop down.
“After you enjoy the Land of the Loon festivities, definitely come watch some good baseball.’’