A member of the Staples Legionaires was nice enough to answer my questions about the season for them and i hope you all enjoy.
TT: Briefly can you tell me about 2007 season with your record and how youdid in the playoffs and any special acheivements worth noting.
SL: Our regular season record was 3-21, 3-13 in the Lake & Pine League. We lostboth of our 2 playoff games which was a best of 3 series with the Wolf LakeWolfpack (who I believe ended up winning region 16C and going to state).The '07 season was our 2nd year having a team, this coming season will be our 3rd.
TT: Is there any key additions to the team?
SL: Jeff Johnson, a long time high school varsity and amateur umpire in thearea, will be taking over as our 3rd manager in 3 seasons, but will allowus to have a non-player/manager for the first time. His 2 sons, Zack andGunner Johnson, will be coming over to our team from the Nimrod Gnats. For the past 4 seasons Zack has played as either the starting CF or SS for a good Nimrod team that went to regions each of those years. Zack hit for a .329AVG last season, and is also probably one of the fastest 2 or 3 players in all the L&P League, and the Legionnaires need his speed. Gunner is still a young highschooler, but may earn a starting spot this season
TT: Is there any key losses from the team?
SL: Manager/Backup catcher David Lundberg is leaving the team after moving to a new area
TT: What do you view as the teams strengths this season?
SL:We don't have much for power hitting, but we might be able to more than make up for that with our speed on the bases and at the plate. Our lineup will have a number of guys that will be threats on the bases and that are very capable hitters at the plate that find ways to get on base and move runners over. Our defensive depth in the outfield may have us with more good outfielders than we're able to find playing time for.
TT: What are some things the team needs to work on to be the best it can become playoff time?
SL: Improving our defense will be the biggest issue. We especially will need to find guys to fill holes at catcher and 3rd base. Our pitching depth also looks like it may be shorter than we'd like
TT: What are the expections you have for your team going into the season?
SL: After last season, I think most of us on the team are hoping to be a middle of the pack team in the league, and to be playing good enough come playoff time to just have a shot at winning a few games and making it to regions
TT: If you could say what player is the key to your success or failure and why?
SL: David Anderson is key to our pitching success, he threw more than 30% of our innings last season. Centerfielder Jason Bachman probably had the teams best offensive year last season, batting .333 and scoring 18 runs. It will also be interesting to see how Justin Kolling has recovered from last years season ending injury. A month into the season, Justin was hitting .407 with 7 runs scored before dislocating his shoulder, breaking a collar bone, and needing offseason elbow surgery all due to a play where he ran into the foul pole at full speed while making an amazing catch at the fence
TT: Break down your league for me and where do you see your team fitting into your league.
SL:Each of the last few years, Wolf Lake, Nimrod, and Midway have taken 3 of the 4 region spots from our league. This year I expect the top tier to be made up of Wolf Lake, Midway, and the league newcomer Lakes Area Lightning(from Brainerd). The middle pack will be made up of Nimrod, Red Eye,Sebeka, Verndale, and I believe also Staples, and I expect all these teams to be pretty much equal. I would expect Huntersville to be the only bottom dweller, but after last season the other teams in the league would probably tell you that they think Staples belongs in that group as well.The North Division is made up of Staples, Wolf Lake, Midway, and LakesArea, so at least 1 of those 3 teams that I consider to be the best in ourleague will not make the region tournament. The South Division is made up of Nimrod, Red Eye, Sebeka, Verndale, and Huntersville, and I don't see it being as nearly as top-heavy as the North Division.
TT: Where do you see amateur baseball going in the next 5 years?
SL: Don't really have any thoughts on this
TT: If you could change something about amateur baseball what would it be.
SL:I would move a large number of the top C teams up to class B. It doesn'tmake sense to me that Class C is so large that only about 10% of teams makeit to the state tournament, when at the same time the number of teams inClass B is so small that like 50% of the teams go to state.