By Ken Barhorst
After a memorable 2016 season that saw his Sidney Post 217 American Legion baseball team play in the state tournament, coach Jim Koewler announced he was stepping down so he could watch his grandsons, Riverside grads Dakota and Dalton Bollinger, play college ball.
But when replacing him proved to be quite a task at Post 217, Koewler decided to come back and resume his coaching duties.
You can bet that was welcome news, too. Koewler led his 2016 Post 217 team to a final 37-19 record and a third-place finish in the State Legion Tournament in Lancaster, where the team won three games.
A lot of impressive talent was lost from that team, but Koewler has several key players returning and likes the new faces that are coming in.
“With the kids we have back, and the kids we have coming in, I’m looking forward to it,” Koewler said.
Among those returning are names like Daniel Kearns, Daniel Berning, Kyle Subler, Bryant McCarty, Austin McLain and Zach White. Subler, a catcher from Versailles, was recently named the Division 3 Player of the Year by the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association.
It was just seven years ago that there was no Legion baseball in Sidney. But the comeback appears complete. Not only did last year’s team set the bar high for future teams, but Koewler also announced that because of the interest in baseball, the committee decided it was time to start a Junior legion team.
The team will be coached by Kenny Peters and Jace Piper, and there are 18 on the roster.
“Myself and the committee have been talking the last couple years about starting a junior team and we felt the time was right with the interest that’s been shown,” Koewler said. “They will be playing tournaments on weekends with a few games here and there during the week. I don’t know if it’s the success we had last year and people finally realizing what we have right here in our own backyard. But the interest has been amazing this year.”
The senior Legion team will open its 2017 campaign this Sunday, May 28, at Toledo Whitehouse at noon.
The first home game will be against Legion Alumni on Tuesday of next week at Custenborder Field at 7 p.m.
One of the new games this season will be against the Lima Locos on June 5 on the road. And on June 19, Sidney will host the Columbus Bruins at 7:15.
Both the Locos and the Bruins are summer college teams.
In addition, Sidney will be participating in the Jim Jadwin Memorial Tournament in Chillicothe June 23, 24 and 25, and in the Dan Cross Invitational in Cambridge July 2, 3 and 4. The Jadwin Memorial is an all-Legion 12-team tournament, and the Cross Invitational is a 6-team all-Legion tournament.
New to the schedule are Portsmouth on the road June 10 and Waverly on the road June 11.
The district tournament will be played at Troy July 11-thru-15, with the winner advancing to the state tournament in Lancaster July 26-thru-30.
“Once again we will be playing a very competitive schedule,” Koewler said. “We will be somewhat young this year, but I also think we’ll be very competitive.”
Coaching alongside Koewler will be Jake Lochard, Tony McLain, Jason McLain and Dakota Bollinger.
2017 Post 217
Legion baseball schedule
(Home games at Custenborder)
28 — at Toledo Whitehouse, noon (2)
30 — Legion alumni, 7 p.m.
31 — Dayton Diamondbacks, 5 p.m. (2)
3 — Pemberville, non (2)
4 — at Ashland, noon (2)
5 — at Lima Locos, 7:05
7 — Napoleon, 5:30
8 — Ottawa, 7 p.m.
10 — At Portsmouth, 1 p.m. (2)
11 — at Waverly, 11 a.m. (2)
12 — Miami Valey Prospects, 7:30
13 — at Troy, 7 p.m.
15 — at Greenville, 1 p.m.
17 — Oak Harbor Legion, 1 p.m. (2)
18 — at Lancaster, noon (2)
19 — Columbus Bruins, 7:15
20 — at Piqua, t p.m.
23-25 — at Jadwin Memorial, Chillicothe
27 — Troy, 7 p.m.
29 — Greenville, 7 p.m.
2-4 — at Cross Invitational, Cambridge
6 — Piqua, 7 p.m.
8 — Findlay, 1 p.m. (2)
9 — Hillsboro, noon (2)
11-15 — District tournament at Troy