By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
PIQUA — Piqua Post 184 American Legion baseball coach Justin Jennings and his team will again be shooting for a trip to the state American Legion baseball tournament.
And Jennings feels Piqua has assembled a pretty good team to do it, coming off a 21-20 season.
“Howie Ludwig is back for his fourth season and he is a guy that can do a lot of things,” Jennings said. “And Will Eversole is back for his third season.”
Jennings will have a number of options on the mound.
Among those are Jack Olberding (Minster), Ludwig (Houston), Drew Barhorst, Jared Magoteaux and Alex Keller (Lehman Catholic), Damien Lawson (Piqua), Logan Evans (Indian Lake), Iverson Ventura (Piqua), Garrett Toops (Versailles) and Ethan Westerbeck (Fairlawn).
“It is hard to come up with that fireballer every year,” Jennings said. “But, we feel like we have enough diversity on the mound, we will be able to overcome that. Garrett Toops was Versailles’ ace this year and we expect him to be this summer.”
At the catching spot will Ludwig, along with Lehman Catholic’s RJ Bertini and Jacob Trent.
“Howie (Ludwig) did most of the catching last year and he will again this year,” Jennings said. “Howie is an outstanding catcher and makes the other teams worry about getting thrown out. RJ Bertini and Jacob Trent will get about the same amount of time back there.”
Eversole and Magoteaux are both back in the infield and also seeing time there will be Ludwig, Joey Dietz and Jackson Subler (Tippecanoe), Barhorst, Keller, Lawson, Evans, Ventura and Westerbeck.
“Will Eversole hit around .470 this spring for Versailles,” Jennings said. “Joey Dietz hit in high .300s for Tippecanoe.”
The outfielder will flash a lot of speed.
Olberding will be the centerfielder.
Also seeing action in the outfield will be Bertini, Keller, Lawson, Luke Foster (Houston) and Levi Godwin (Riverside).
“Jack Olberding can really got get the ball in centerfield,” Jennings said. “Levi Godwin was All-State as a junior in the outfield for Riverside. Luke Foster is certainly going to get his opportunity out there and RJ Bertini will see some time out there. Alex Keller has a lot of speed.”
And while Jennings likes his team’s speed, he also sees plenty of power on this team.
“Will Eversole has hit home runs,” he said. “So have Jack Olberding and Howie Ludwig. It is tough to do in our ball park (Hardman Field), so if you get one, you get one. So, we will probably focus on speed.”
And he likes his team’s versatility.
“You have a lot of kids involved in other sports as well,” Jennings said. “So, you have to be flexible.”
The league will be made up of the same five teams —- Piqua, Troy, Sidney, Van Wert and Greenville, with the winner of the postseason tournament advancing on to the state tournament.
“Van Wert went to the state tournament last year,” Jennings said. “All the teams were close and I think it will be the same way this year. I always enjoy the challenge of going up against Troy, All those games with Troy always seem to be important.”
And like the team’s top goal, Jennings doesn’t expect that to change this year.
Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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