Arrows starting to gel after slow start

Greg Mast
gmast@ottawaherald.com
Ottawa Arrows third baseman Aidan Michel prepares to make a throw to second base for a force out after fielding a ground ball Thursday against Oak Park at Harvey M. Drake field.

The Ottawa Arrows are coming together as a team.

The Ottawa American Legion baseball squad entered the summer with a lot of uncertainty. The players were from different towns and have not played together.

The players’ high school season was canceled and they were rusty coming off weeks of inactivity.

“We started off the season (slow),” Arrows second baseman Carson Hein said. “A lot of us were from different schools. I did not know anybody when I first showed up. I was glad they took me in. I was happy to get a season in.”

The Arrows season is dwindling down to the end with two weekend tournaments remaining. Ottawa plays Saturday and Sunday in the Junction City Tournament and ends the season next weekend in an eight-team state tournament.

Ottawa opens the Junction City tourney against familiar foes. Ottawa plays at noon Saturday against Newton. Ottawa is 0-4 against the Knights. The second game is against Topeka. Ottawa went 1-1 against the Senators last weekend in Emporia.

“The first two games are winnable,” Arrows coach Kyle Altic said. “We have seen them. We have to play to our potential.”

Ottawa (9-17) split with Oak Park Thursday night in the final home games. The Arrows won the opener, 7-5, and dropped the nightcap, 6-3. The Owls scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning for the win.

“The second game, we did not hit the ball as well,” Hein said. “We had some tough breaks.”

Altic likes the level of play the past few weeks.

“We are starting to hit the ball better,” he said. “Some of them tonight, we were hitting line drives, but they were not falling. Those will start falling and we will start winning these closer games.”

Altic’s plan was the to play all the players and limit each pitcher to about 40 pitches in the final doubleheader.

“I wanted to get everybody in,” Altic said. “Some kids have not gotten as many at-bats as other kids. I wanted to give those guys some at-bats before we get into these last couple of weekends and see where we are at. Our pitching is looking good right now. My goal was to give everybody around 40 pitches. That way everybody is fresh for this weekend.”

Altic is happy with the way the season has unfolded.

“It has been good for what the circumstances have been,” he said. “When they lose the high school season and come into (summer) and we start from scratch with a bunch of kids from different towns, it takes time. I try to preach having fun. I always had fun playing baseball. That leads into winning.”

Arrows shortstop Brady Beets stares at home plate, daring the Oak Park catcher to attempt a pick-off throw. The Arrows split with the Owls.