The Sedalia Travelers American Legion baseball team is hoping for a lot of success this summer.
“We look like a pretty solid team,” Mason Kelchner said. “All our heads are right. We look like we’re going to be into the ballgame.”
Travelers manager Jade Samborski has little doubt the roster is full of high-character players. From the first day of practice last week, the Travelers were working in the batting cages, ready to get to work.
“We don’t have any doubts they’re going to play the game the right way,” Samborski said. “We just have ballplayers that are ready to get going.”
On the mound, the Travelers have a deep pitching staff. On the 18-player roster, 14 can pitch and of those 14, Samborski expects six or eight will be able to start and several others can pitch long innings.
Not only is the staff deep, it is varied.
“It’s everything from guys who can throw hard to guys who throw softer and can move the ball in and out and get ground balls and lazy flyballs,” Samborski said. “We’re excited about that. The mix gives us options. It gives us depth that, as a coach, to have those options in a tight ballgame to have someone come in that’s going to throw a sinker or two-seamer and get a groundball to end an inning.”
Gone is the ace of last summer’s pitching staff, Dalton Christian, but several veteran arms are back. Knob Noster pitcher Matt Miles and Smith-Cotton pitcher Taylor Schubert will see plenty of innings, as will AJ Paul, working his way back from an injury he suffered during Smith-Cotton’s season when he was hit by a pitch.
Joining the mix is Mason Paulus, who threw a no-hitter for Marshall in the district tournament. He isn’t the only Traveler who has a recent no-hitter. Kelchner no-hit the Independence Bears on Monday in the Hi-Boy Tournament.
Kelchner saw some playing time with the Travelers last summer, spending most of the summer with the Juniors, but this season he is looking forward to a full schedule up with the senior team. Though he does pitch, a lot of his time will be spent behind the plate, working with the team’s deep pitching staff.
“I’ve got to build the relationships with them, I’ve got to talk to them and I’ve got to see their pitches,” he said. “I’ve got to get a lot of bullpens in. I’ve got to get a lot of hours in. They’ve all got different stuff.”
On offense, the team is looking at a lineup that can do a number of things well.
“We’ve got guys who had good high school seasons,” Samborski said. “When you have kids from the surrounding areas coming to you, you’re going to get guys who are used to hitting in the middle of the lineup. We’ll talk a lot about approach, a lot more about between the ears.
In four games in the Hi-Boy Tournament to open the season, the Travelers scored 38 runs, invoking the run-rule after five innings in back-to-back games on Monday.
“I think we’re going to be able to put up a lot of offense this year,” Ian Dotson said. “As long as our pitching’s doing well, we should be great.”
Dotson is back for another summer with the Travelers after he appeared in 22 games as a freshman at Hannibal-LaGrange.
“We’re looking to start out hot this season and build momentum early on this season,” he said.
Coming out of the Hi-Boy Tournament 3-1, the Travelers open the home portion of the season at 6 p.m. today with a doubleheader against Fike.