BUCKHANNON - Buckhannon Post 7 enters the 2012 campaign with one of the program's deepest rosters in some time. For several years, the area American Legion Tournament has been a five-team affair.
This year however, the area schedule will have a very different look with only three teams remaining.
Third-year head coach Jeff Reed is the beneficiary of the consolidation, as Post 7 not only returns several key players from last year's team, but has also beefed up with some manpower from the folded Weston Post 4.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Andrew Davis
Buckhannon’s Daniel Powell looks to lead Post 7’s deep pitching rotation this season. Buckhannon will open its season Saturday at home against Preston.
With an ambitious 42-game schedule on the regular-season docket, Post 7 has a unit with several players that can play various positions, and a pitching staff that is deep. Reed says that the middle relief is the area where the team could take a major step forward if effective.
"We have the option of being flexible on where we have people defensively, and also where bat them in the lineup,' Reed said. "Right now we have five solid guys for a five-man rotation, but beyond that, we are going to need some guys to give some solid middle relief, and some spot starts. If we can have some pitchers develop in that area, we can have a really strong staff."
Three different players are expected to see time at catcher - Jeremy Davidson, Matt Fair and Nate Kemper, all of which have starting experience. On first base, there will also be three players seeing time, all extremely solid hitters that are also pitchers. This group includes Logan Moneypenny, Corey Reed and Dalton Westfall.
Daniel Powell is the starter at second base, as part of a strong middle infield. Powell will be flanked by shortstop Tyler Wood, a strong bat and glove who posted a strong season for Weston last summer. Brandon Newcomb and Jake Goss are the reserves at second, with Westfall and Powell also expected to see some action at short.
Westfall, Davidson, Moneypenny and Luke Pudder are all expected to see action at third base, depending on how the flexible lineup varies each night. Likewise, the outfield will rotate with Nathan Mathews, Drew Gandee, Reed and Kemper all expecting to see time.
"Right now we have 18 players on the roster," Reed said. "This includes 15 regular legion players and three more Babe Ruth players that will join us. It is the type of depth that can make us a lot more competitive."
Pitching is where this depth is most noticeable. This depth will be tested immediately, as the team is scheduled to play six games over the next three days - two on Saturday against Kingwood, two on Sunday against Beckley and two more Monday against Bridgeport.
Reed's five-man rotation of starters includes several players that have excelled not only in high school, but also in the heat of summer legion ball. This strong unit includes Powell, Reed, Westfall, Pudder and Kemper. In terms of middle relief and a closer, that will come from a pool of arms that includes John McDaniels, Mathews, Wood, Fair and Moneypenny.
"We are hoping that Moneypenny can eventually be our closer, but we want to gradually work him into that role," Reed said. "He is coming off an injury from his college season, and is still coming back."
Buckhannon opens its season Saturday at home against Preston. Game time is slated for 2 p.m.
All six games of this weekend's homestand will take place at William Phillips Memorial Field.