Legion baseball set for different season

The Ottawa Herald
Ottawa American Legion's Cole Swanson, of Wellsville, fields a ground ball and sets to throw the ball to first base during Thursday's practice. The Arrows open the season 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against Emporia, the defending state champions. [PHOTO BY GREG MAST/THE OTTAWA HERALD].

The Ottawa American Legion baseball season will be different than ever before.

First, the coronavirus pandemic is still front and center. Second, the Ottawa teams will play as an independent with state and national organizations canceling the season. Third, the players are rusty and need time to regain their skills.

The Ottawa Arrows understand change will be a big part of the landscape.

“That has got to be the mantra this year,” Arrows coach Kyle Altic said. “We have a lot of people out here. It is fun and interesting at the same time.”

Altic said the players and parents have adapted to all the changes so far.

“I have changed the schedule five times in the last week,” he said.

Expect the Arrows to juggle the lineup at least through the first part of the season. Altic said the 17 players on the Arrows roster are a melting pot, coming from Ottawa, Garnett, Gardner, Paola, Wellsville and Lebo.

“There is a lot of new faces,” Altic said. “It is going to look a lot different this year. I don’t know exactly what we have.”

Altic said several players may move between the A’s and Arrows squads this season.

“We have the luxury of doing that this year,” he said.

Another big difference is the players don’t have a high school season under their belts because the virus wiped out the high school spring sports.

“This year we are having to get their arms in shape and get them in shape as much as we can,” Altic said. “We are playing it by ear. It will take time. We work as hard as we can in practice. It will look ugly for the first couple of weeks for everyone. Not just us.”

Altic said time is needed for the players and coaches to gel together.

“It will take a few weeks to get used to everybody and everybody to get used to each other,” he said. “We have not done much team-building stuff. Just being around each other will help.”

Pitching depth is a strength with 11 players having mound experience. Altic said that is critical this summer because most have not thrown consistently for six months or more.

“A few more can pitch, but won’t,” Altic said. “That is pretty deep. Especially this year with not having a season before [this]. We have to watch a little closer.”

Altic said about a dozen players played for him either in the summer or the fall.

“There are a few guys definitely with a lot of power,” he said. “It is not the fastest team. It will be a fun season.

“I would like to make huge improvements from start to finish. I would like to go into the last tournament and be able to compete with everybody.”

The Arrows open the season 6 p.m. Tuesday at Harvey M. Drake field with a doubleheader against Emporia.

“We start out with the state champs from last year,” Altic said. “Even though they are in the same boat as we are, they have been together more than us. That will help them a little bit.

“I hope there will be quite a few people here [watching]. There is a lot of room around a baseball field to stand [or sit].”

Ottawa American Legion Schedule



June 13 Ottawa vs. Topela

Topeka vs. Iola

Ottawa vs. Iola

June 16 at Emporia


June 21 Alumni game

June 24 at Newton

June 26-28 Pittsburg Tournament


July 2 at Garnett


JULY 10-12 Emporia Tournament

July 14 TOPEKA

JULY 18-19 Junction City Tournament

Ottawa A’s

June 6-7 Iola Tournament


June 11 IOLA

June 16 at Emporia

June 18 at Iola

June 21 Alumni game

June 23 at Garnett

June 24 at Emporia

June 30 TOPEKA

July 2 at Iola

July 7 IOLA

July 10-12 JIM ALLEN

July 18-19 Garnett Tournament