Saturday, December 20, 2014

Legion AA set for underdog role

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 6/30/2014

The Ottawa Legion AA squad is sort of an underdog when it comes to the Grand Slam Wood Bat Tournament in Salina.

Ottawa fields a team with most of its players from the high school team and all from the same city.

The Ottawa Legion AA squad is sort of an underdog when it comes to the Grand Slam Wood Bat Tournament in Salina.

Ottawa fields a team with most of its players from the high school team and all from the same city.

Most of the other teams come from bigger cities and field all-star type teams. But that does not deter the excitement or the challenge.

Ottawa coach Shawn Herrmann said Ottawa is ready and looking forward to playing the different teams in the tournament, which runs Thursday through Sunday. Ottawa went 1-3 last year in the tourney and was in every game.

“I like the atmosphere of the tournament,” Herrmann said. “We have really good competition. We are playing a couple of different teams than we have played before. It is teams we can compete against.”

Ottawa has a tendency to play up or down to its competition level.

“We will be challenged,” Herrmann said. “When we come to play, we will be tough. The tougher the teams, we step our game up. I wanted to be on the toughest side. I want to challenge our kids.”

The field consists of teams from Nebraska, along with host Salina and Garden City.

“There are teams from other states,” Herrmann said. “The Garden City team is really good. Salina has good arms. They have two or three guys that can bring it. They are fundamentally sound. They take the top kids from three different schools.”

Ottawa (11-4) opens the tourney 11:15 a.m. Friday vs. Garden City Elite. Ottawa plays Millard North, Nebraska at 3:45 p.m. Friday. Millard North is the three-time defending tourney champions. Ottawa fell 5-2 to Millard in last year’s tournament.

Ottawa plays 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Kansas Mudcats and closes pool play 8:15 p.m. Saturday vs. Salina.

The top teams advance to Sunday’s bracketed play.

“We were in every game we played,” Herrmann said of last year’s tourney. “I expect the same this year.”

One of the reasons Herrmann wants to play in the tourney is to get the players familiar with Dean Evans Stadium, the site of the 4A Div. I State Tournament.

“I like playing on the field of our state tournament is on,” Herrmann said. “That is our goal every year. Our younger kids get a feel for the state tournament atmosphere.

“The grass is fast and the outfield is big.”

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