Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Youth will carry Legion team this summer

Summer baseball season opens today


By JAMES CORDES
Express Correspondent

Looking at Major League Baseball today, the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox, and San Diego Padres are all in first place.

The common theme surrounding these four teams? They are young and mainly inexperienced.

If the Wood River American Legion baseball team can only follow that same premise, this summer should be fun.

Led by one 18-year old, only three 17-year olds, and the rest underclassmen, Wood River begins its Legion campaign today, Wednesday with a doubleheader in Twin Falls.

Tyler Thiede, the team's oldest member, and seniors Derek Abbott, Casey Hawkes, and Morgan Uhrig, hope to improve on last year's 21-17-1 summer mark that was good enough for sixth place in the 15-team Area C "A" ranks covering southern and southeastern Idaho.

Thiede is the most experienced pitcher returning. He had a 3-3 record for last year's Legion team.

The rest of the roster includes juniors Kenny Cardona, Drew Anderson, Jimmy Pierson, and Danny Kramer and sophomores Trent Seamons, Tyler Israel, Pat Patterson, Eric Jacobson, and Chase Uhrig.

At the helm of the squad is second-year coach Eli Lloyd.

"We've got a great core of athletes this year," Lloyd said. "The team is fun to watch and each player brings some exciting elements to the game."

The strength of this summer's team, according to Lloyd, begins on the mound.

"Between the top four of our rotation—Cardona, Patterson, Jacobson, and Seamons—we've got a lot of talent and a lot to work with," Lloyd said.

Cardona, coming off a frustrating sophomore high school campaign with the Wood River Wolverines, looks to be the ace of the summer staff. He went 4-2 last summer with wins over Burley, Jerome, Hillcrest and Hillsboro (Ore.).

"He's got some great stuff and is already a legitimate pitcher," Lloyd said.

Offensively, Morgan Uhrig, Abbott, and Israel will spark the lineup.

"We've got enough small ball players who can execute and set the table for some of our bigger bats in the lineup, which is ideal," Lloyd said.

These big bats include Jimmy Pierson, fresh off a successful high school campaign in Utah. Pierson was one of last summer's leading hitters for the Hailey Legion squad.

Helping him will be re-vitalized second baseman Drew Anderson.

Lack of experience on the field isn't an issue that Lloyd is too worried about.

The coach said, "Tyler (Thiede) will be a leader for us. He has great energy on the field that can rub off on the younger guys.

"There are no bad attitudes on this team," Lloyd added. "Just guys who know what's expected of them and are ready to produce." Wood River has 14 home games and 22 away games this summer, including tournaments in Twin Falls (June 16-19) and in American Falls hosted by Marsh Falls (June 23-25).

The district tournament, in which Wood River (2-2 district) fell last summer to Blackfoot 6-2 in American Falls to end the Hailey team's 2004 campaign, will be held in eastern Idaho at Upper Valley July 27-30.

Wood River's first home game is Tuesday, June 21 against Jerome at 4 p.m. on the Founders Field home diamond in Hailey.




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