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by Mike Nutter
(June 16)Bridgeport Post 68 coach Brian Randolph likes his American Legion team's chances.
The team returns a solid nucleus from last year's 24-9 squad, and has an incoming group of first-year players that should "definitely contribute,"
But so far, Post 68 has already lost one battle -- the weather.
When Bridgeport's players line up for their first game at 5:15 tonight at Bridgeport High School, it will be the first time they have played or practiced together this season.
But like it has so far this season for Randolph and Bridgeport, rain will likely postpone the contest against Buckhannon.
"The weather has definitely been our biggest obstacle so far," Randolph said. "We went up to A-B once and hit in the gym, but basically that has been the only practice time that we have been able to get in. We told them to try to throw as much as they could on their own, and that is all that we can really do."
However, Randolph is confident the club will overcome its inexperience when it comes time to finally throw out the first pitch.
"Most of these kids just quit playing high school baseball a few weeks ago," said Randolph. "I really think that as far as being in baseball shape, they shouldn't have much of a problem. If anything, not being familiar with each other will hurt us as much as anything."
Post 68 has 18 players from three different high schools.
But Randolph, who has been coaching Bridgeport for three years, doesn't anticipate that mixture to be a difficult hurdle.
"As long as I've been associated with this team, having the different kids playing together has never been a big problem," Randolph said.
"I really don't think that this year will be any different in that aspect."
While Post 68 returns some starters at key positions, Randolph says nobody is guaranteed a spot in the lineup.
"A lot depends on who plays well when we finally do get a game in," he said.
"This team has a lot of depth at each position, and I think that the competitiveness for a spot will definitely help us.
"The biggest thing, though, is for the kids to have a good time," Randolph said.
"We want this to be a fun experience, and hopefully for some of these players this can lead to more exposure to college scouts."