Post 37 kicks off season

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By Todd Martin

American Legion Post 37 head coach Jim Wiley purposely put together a very tough schedule for his team this year.

Wiley believed his team would be very strong this season with a crop of successful high school players and a strong group of returning college players.

However, things can change quickly. Wiley was hesitant to comment on the team's roster, saying instead he has a very strong team on the disabled list.

"We have a lot of questions already," Wiley said. "I've seen them all play and I haven't been very impressed. Plus, we have several kids hurt already."

Wiley ran through a long list of players that would have been major impact players for his Legion team this year, but instead will start the season on the shelf.

"I thought we'd have the best high school outfielder in the state (in Jared Clarkson), but I don't know if he'll be healthy or not. Nat Braden (a pitcher/outfielder from Oldham County) broke his arm in the fall, and I'm not sure how much he can do. Lincoln Wagner came back from college, and I thought he'd be our pitcher that we can lean on, but his first day at practice he threw a little and said his arm hurts. So I don't know about him right now."

Those are just a few of the injuries, but Wiley said his team will march on. However, the coach said he won't set his roster until possibly as late as next week.

The team opens play Saturday at Danville, and then plays a nine-inning game Sunday at home against Rockport at 2 p.m.

"I'm going to have to ask a lot of guys to play different positions so we can see what we have," he said. "We're struggling right now with finding guys that can play defensively in the outfield, and I'm not sure about third base either. The other positions should take care of themselves, but really I'm not sure what we have."

One major problem Wiley faces is that the team's roster has to be set by July 1, leaving just three weeks for players to see if they can be healthy enough to contribute.

"The season goes by quick, but if we can get everybody healthy in a couple of weeks we'll be pretty good," he said. "But that's asking a lot, especially from those pitchers. We have the experience to be a good team, but not if everybody is injured."

Wiley said the injuries could cause the team to struggle at the beginning of the season, but it could make the team stronger in the long run.

"Hopefully we can see what these guys can do, and then we can get everybody back and be a good team," he said. "It's tough right now, because everybody comes up and says 'Well, you guys are loaded this season.' I think we can be good if we stay together and get everybody healthy, but otherwise you may have to go to the hospital to watch them."