Post 15 set to open Legion baseball season Saturday

PARKERSBURG – A mixture of a solid core of veteran players along with an influx of young talent has 26th-year Parkersburg Post 15 manager Jim Goodwin smiling as the 2014 American Legion baseball season starts Saturday at 1 p.m. with a home doubleheader versus visiting Meigs County at City Park,

“We think we have a pretty good combination of speed, hitting, pitching and catching,” said Goodwin, who is waiting for Ravenswood High School standouts Devon Crews (SS/3B) and Jesse Brown (P/1B) to join the team after the Red Devils finish tournament play.

“Jesse’s a 6-3 lefthander who’s in the high 80s with his pitches, while Devon is hitting around .500 this year and has close to 50 RBIs, a dozen doubles and I think eight or more homers,” said Goodwin.

More than half of Goodwin’s players this season are returning with college baseball experience under their belts.

The Braniff twins, pitcher-left fielder Jacob and catcher-second baseman Jordan who played at Parkersburg South, are back after their freshman year at Glenville State.

“I consider both Brown and Crews veterans too since they’ve been around here a long time and are 19-year-olds,” said Goodwin.

Also, Goodwin’s grandson Lucas (2B/RF), in college at WVU, is among the returnees along with former Williamstown all-stater Eli Gray (3B/P), who “has had three years with us,” said Goodwin.

Glenville State’s Adam McCray (P-1B), from South, is in his fifth year with Post 15, while another former Patriot in 6-foot-6 righthander Clayton Cottrille (P/1B), who “pitched some at Bethany (College) this year,” said Goodwin, is back to play Legion again.

In addition, Goodwin has the Dudley boys too this year from Parkersburg High School in returnee Logan (3B/CF) and his younger freshman brother Hayden (CF/RF) for the first time.

From Williamstown, Dakota Watson (LF-CF) is back. “He can fly when he runs and hits the ball exceptionally well,” said Goodwin, who also has Big Red player Rex Windland in the outfield, mostly center, and “he is fast too,” added Goodwin.

Post 15, which went 26-15 last season, sports three catchers this year. Beside Jordan Braniff, there are PHS’ Cole Parker, who is “excellent,” said Goodwin, “and he also pitches and can play shortstop,” and Josh Stephens (C/RF), a sophomore from Williamstown, who “has as good an arm as anybody on the team,” noted Goodwin.

In his first year with Post 15 is Cary Casto (1B/P) from Parkersburg Catholic who “swings a good bat,” said Goodwin, who has another grandson on the team in Kyle (P-SS), a 15-year-old lefthanded pitcher who played for PHS as a freshman.

“So we’re really looking forward to having an outstanding team with what we’ve got from PHS, South, Williamstown, Ravenswood and the other schools, plus the kids coming back from college,” said Goodwin.

“We seem to be clicking very well together, and we’re strong in the infield and outfield and have got speed – and more speed.

“We got the talent, now it’s up to us to get it out of them,” said Goodwin.

“I cannot tell you what a great job our coaches do,” said Goodwin about his assistant manager Steve Fleak and Post 15 assistant coaches Kyle Fleak and Kyle Haverty. “They do anything and everything that’s asked of them – and much more.”