AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL - Travelers open season today
Second-year Sedalia Travelers manager Jud Kindle likes the makeup of his senior Legion baseball team.
The Travelers, sponsored by American Legion Post 642, bring back 10 players from year’s team that reached the semifinals of the zone tournament.
However, he may be more excited by his newcomers.
Joe Lincoln, a strong-armed catcher from Tipton, will give the Travelers a big bat for the middle of the lineup.
Lincoln, who has drawn attention from pro scouts, batted .629 with eight homers and 51 RBIs for Tipton this spring.
Kindle, a former college catcher, has been impressed with Lincoln so far.
“He’s a man among boys,” Kindle said.
The Travelers added three all-staters from Sacred Heart: pitchers J.G. Kelley and Austin Mullins and infielder Jaric Reid.
Allen Bell, of La Monte, will add depth to the Travelers’ pitching staff. He has committed to play baseball at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.
Two Windsor players have joined the Travelers: outfielder Brandon Neel and pitcher Brandon Roe.
Kindle said Neel brings a lot of speed to the team as well as a left-handed bat. The manager was pleased to see so many different towns represented at the team’s tryout.
“Last year, we had mainly Smith-Cotton players. Schools from around the area didn’t come out,” Kindle said. This year, “we could have players from Sacred Heart, Windsor, La Monte, Tipton and Smith-Cotton in our opening day lineup.
“We’re getting better talent, and we’re not low on numbers. Sixteen tried out last year, 22 this year.”
The Travelers return the heart of their lineup in center fielder Nate Morenz and utility player Kaleb Harvey. The coach expects them to bat No. 3 and 4, respectively, most days.
Shortstop Kyle Zimmerman returns, but he will miss the first half of the season after tearing his ACL, according to Kindle.
Adam Archibeque will be the team’s spark plug at the top of the lineup. He split time between the junior and senior teams last season.
First baseman Kyle Kimbrough is back.
“Kyle struggled in school ball, but in practice he showed he’s ready to swing it,” Kindle said.
John Crawford returns after missing most of last season because of a broken hand. Right fielder Cole Hutchison and second baseman Jesse McKee are back.
McKee played for Crowder College this spring and led the Travelers in stolen bases and runs scored last year.
Brandon Meyer returns to anchor the starting rotation.
“He was our go-to-guy last year,” Kindle said.
Adam Eckles is back at closer.
Kindle likes his team’s pitching depth entering the season.
“We were a good hitting and defensive team,” Kindle said of last year’s squad. “This year, we have plenty of arms to get us through the tournaments.”
The team lost three key contributors from last year’s team including starting catcher Brent Hodge, left-handed pitcher Josh Elam and pitcher/third baseman Troy Hutinger.
The Travelers will open their season with a doubleheader against Oak Grove at 6 p.m. today at Liberty Park Stadium.
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