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Post 211 counting on college experience

May 22, 2004|By MARK KELLER

In a year full of change, Funkstown Post 211 baseball coach Darryl Powell is thankful to have a core of experienced players to lean on.

Powell's 2004 roster features six players who have played at the college level and plenty of depth from the high school athletes who fill out the roster as Funkstown begins its first season as the only legion team in Washington County.

"Those college guys, that's really the exciting part about the team this year," Powell said. "They've been coming in sporadically at practice because they've still been playing at college. But when they're there, the level of practice is stepped up. Their experience should help to carry us."

Two of those players with college experience - Cole Bellon and Jeff Mills - will head the pitching rotation. Bellon was 0-1 with a 2.71 ERA and four saves last season, while Mills went 6-2 with a 4.23 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 53 innings.

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"They're the two big ones," Powell said. "They'll probably do the bulk of the pitching. Both did great last year and we expect them to do better this year."

Andy Simmons, Nathan Himes, Marty Kaetzel and Matt Tedrick also bring college experience to the table for Funkstown, though three of them will be playing in different surroundings this year.

Simmons, Himes and Kaetzel all played for Williamsport Post 202 last season, but after that post decided to fold its team last winter, all three players went to Post 211.

They are joined in Funkstown by Josh Bowers, who played for Williamsport last year, and Brandon Painter, who would have played there this year.

"It hasn't been difficult, but it's been different as far as how players are going to fit into different roles," Powell said. "All of these kids would be starting if there were separate teams. Now they'll have to get used to not playing every game."

Simmons (Frostburg State) will split time with Kyle Robinson (North Hagerstown) at shortstop. Kaetzel and Drew Crawford (Smithsburg) will share second base duties. Tedrick and Phil Powell (South) are slated for first base, while Bowers and Josh Bussard (South) will share third base when they are not pitching.

Himes will be the primary catcher, handling a pitching staff that will include Ben Mertz and Tim Kellinger, neither of whom played legion ball last year.

The outfield will include Bryson Appel (South), Orland Dean (North) and Painter (Boonsboro), while Trevor Cobb (St. Maria Goretti) will play a utility role.

A.J. Bandeff (South), Daniel Lynn (South) and B.J. Soto (North) are the roster alternates.

In addition to the players from Williamsport Legion, Powell also picked up its former manager, Rick Keefer, as an assistant coach.

"There are certain things he's done that I like and things I do that he likes, so you try to incorporate that all into one," Powell said. "When you get people in like that, it's a big burden off of you and that's a positive."

The loss of Williamsport reduces the Western Maryland District to three teams - Funkstown, Frederick and Mt. Airy. But Powell said the level of play should not be diminished.

"We have three of the better teams in Maryland legion baseball in our district," Powell said. "What worries me is Frederick hosts states this year, so they're in (the state tournament). That leaves it to us and Mt. Airy beating up on each other for the other spot in states.

"We don't want to be the odd man out."

Funkstown opens its season today with a doubleheader against the Maryland Redbirds at Funkstown Park at noon.

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