Baseball: Elgin Post 57 looks to build off last year’s success
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media June 6, 2012 5:40PM
Tyler Rydin is one of the returning players for Elgin Post 57, which looks to build off last year's runner-up finish in the state tournament. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 6, 2012 11:15PM
The state runner-up status earned by the Elgin Post 57 American Legion baseball team last season did little to fortify the program for this season.
“After that, I thought it would be an easy recruiting year,” team general manager Bob Todd said. “You know, with the kids knowing what happened last year and the reputation.”
Instead, Post 57’s squad, which opens the season in its own Earlybird Tournament at Wing Park on Thursday through Sunday, has numbers problems and is seeking to add to the roster.
“We’re still trying to add a few numbers, looking for pitchers and outfielders, preferably seniors, from Larkin, South Elgin, Burlington, Hampshire and St. Edward,” Todd said.
The 13 players on the Post 57 roster at the outset include only five from last year’s run to the state finals. What the team does have is a new head coach.
Jason Richardson, a 1999 Larkin grad whose name is still prominent for home runs and RBI in the state high school record book, takes over as head coach. Former coach Joe Morel had stepped down late last season.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing for a long time,” Richardson said about his first head baseball coaching post. Richardson has been tennis coach at ECC and assisted baseball coach Bill Angelo, as well.
The five players returning from last year include St. Edward grad Luke Duffy, one of the squad’s better hitters/pitchers.
Another right-handed pitcher, Dan Grzywa from Hampshire and Roosevelt University, returns, as does South Elgin right-hander Tyler Rydin. Hampshire and ECC right-handed pitcher and outfielder Cameron Waterman, and Hampshire’s Tyler Crater, a catcher, are back. Crater played two years ago as a backup catcher but missed last year’s American Legion state tourney run. He’s slated to be the starting catcher this season.
“We look to continue this year with what we consider a young, rebuilding team,” Todd said.
The rest of the roster is new.
South Elgin’s first baseman-outfielder Jake Buhman, pitcher-outfielder Andrew Weedman, infielder-outfielder Nevan Jeske, pitcher-third baseman David Palmer, pitcher-infielder-outfielder Jake Hicks, and infielder-outfielder Mike Murphy, and Burlington Central catcher-infielder-outfielder Bryan Cynova and pitcher Kevin Zasada make up the rest of the roster.
“The South Elgin kids will be a big help to us and Cynova is a good hitter,” Todd said. “Buhman has a lot of power and Duffy does, too, and Duffy looks to be throwing well.”
Todd always stresses the word “trust” when it comes to legion players and counting on teammates. They’ll have to buy into this approach immediately considering the inexperience factor.
“The team we had last year was an older mix and they started with us as juniors and matured together,” Todd said.
“It’ll be a different kind of group this season.”
The ultimate goal is building on the success the team had over the past five years, when it went 117-47-1, including 29-11-1 last year.
Post 57 opens Thursday night against New Lenox Post 1977 at 5:30 p.m. in the Elgin tournament at Wing Park.
Lake In the Hills, Lake Zurich, North Brook, Plainfield, Portage Park, and Elmhurst are the other teams in the tournament. Pool play ends on Saturday and teams play for places on Sunday.