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Legion season opens Friday

Daily News Sports Editor

The Ketchikan Post 3 American Legion baseball team will begin their fifth season this weekend at Walker Field. The home opener is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday against Service Post 28 from Anchorage.

“I think the boys are excited,” Ketchikan head coach Johnny Milner said. “We’ll see if the weather cooperates. But I know they’re looking forward to it.”

Temperatures will be in the low-50s and the rains should clear up by then. But the field will have soaked up showers from the past 24 hours.

“We play in all types of weather,” Milner said. “The Anchorage teams don’t like it. It does play to our favor, especially here at home. It’s an advantage because when those teams come down here, they aren’t used to it.”

And fielding may play a factor this weekend.

“Our field is like two different fields,” he continued. “When it’s hot, it’s like concrete. When it’s wet, it plays very differently.”

Milner has 15 players on his roster, with most of them returning from the Ketchikan High School baseball squad that recently won third place in state.

“It’s been a short turnaround for the Kayhi boys,” Milner said. “We’ve only been able to run a couple practices with the legion team. On the other side, most of the Kayhi boys should still be fresh from playing at state.”

Those practices have primarily focused around hitting in the early going.

Milner said his lineup will be a balance between speed and power. It is a nice change of pace from previous seasons.

“I lean toward speed,” he said. “This is my fifth year in the legion program and this is by far the oldest team we’ve had, as far as mostly juniors and sophomores. So typically, we’re a smaller team and have to rely on the speed and putting pressure on the other team with hit and runs. This year, there are three to five guys that have pretty good power. So, it’ll be a little bit different experience for me. But a good one for sure.”

Ketchikan will have plenty of arms this summer. Of the 15 roster spots, Ketchikan will feature 12 to 13 pitchers, with one left-handed southpaw.

“You need all the pitchers that you can get,” Milner said.

Ketchikan and Service will play four games this weekend. The contests on Friday and Sunday will be nonconference. There will be a doubleheader on Saturday, both games of which will be considered conference games.

Last summer, Service Post 28 finished as one of the top three teams in the state tournament. Ketchikan narrowly missed the state tournament, falling to the Invitational Tournament last year. They were the No. 1 seed in the Invitational Tournament, winning the consolation final.