A team-by-team preview of the American Legion Baseball Missouri Fifth District teams.

AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL FIFTH DISTRICT PREVIEW CAPSULES

Blue Springs Post 499/Fike
Top returners: Justin Braun, Blaine Hines, Danny McMurtrey, Stephen Montisano, Matt Perrine, Daniel Segalo, Alex White.
Newcomers: Derrick Cox, Nick Gast, Josh Hightower, Josh Ingram, Sam Morman, Jordan Oddo, Nelson Phillips, Josh Smetana, Luke Warner, Alex Worman.
Coaching staff: Jim Moran, manager; Randy Keele, John Meyer, Travis Reeder, coaches
Manager’s comments: “We will be very young and inexperienced at the legion level. We should have good leadership from our returners who know what it takes to play in the toughest district in the state. Our middle infield with Montisano and McMurtrey will give us solid defense up the middle. Hines, Perrine and Cox will anchor the pitching staff. Gast and White will share the catching duties and Segalo will anchor the outfield. Oddo and Cox will split time at third. The (No.) 4, 5 and 6 starters are still up for grabs while Hightower, Morman, Phillips and Smetana are in contention for the last two outfield spots. Braun, Warner and Worman give us depth at pitching and Ingram will be used as a utility infielder. The coaches like the attitude and approach to the game that we witnessed during winter workouts. The season has a lot of games in a short period of time, and if we can stay healthy and our young players get better as the year goes on, who knows?”
2008 finish: 31-21, tie for second in Fifth District, second in district tournament, second in Zone 2 tournament, second Red River Classic at Fargo, N.D.
2009 outlook: Seven players return and Hines should be one of the best pitchers in the district. If the younger players produce, Fike could have another successful season.
Schedule (home games played at Hidden Valley Park): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 26, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; May 27, at Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; May 28, at St. Joseph Post 11; May 30, at Harrisonville Post 42; May 31, at Sedalia Post 642.
June 1, at Warrensburg Post 131; June 3, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 4, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 5-7, at Omaha (Neb.) Tournament; June 8, Oak Grove Post 379; June 10, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 11, Independence Post 21; June 13-14, at Nixa Tournament; June 16, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 19-21, at Spearfish (N.D.) Tournament; June 23, at Independence Post 21; June 24, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 25, at Higginsville Post 223; June 27, at Oak Grove Post 379; June 28, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 30, at R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs;
July 1, Harrisonville Post 42; July 2, Higginsville Post 223; July 3, Raytown Post 596; July 5, at Raytown Post 596; July 8-12, American Legion Wood Bat Invitational; July 13, Fifth District All-Star game; July 14, at R.L. Clore Post 89 Bulldogs; July 18-21, Fifth District Tournament; July 23-26, Zone 2 Tournament at Sedalia; July 30-Aug. 2, State tournament at Hidden Valley Park; Aug. 5-10, Regional Tournament at Minnetonka (Minn.); Aug. 14-18, Legion World Series at Fargo, N.D.

Blue Springs Rod’s Sports Athletics
Top returners: Kyle Barbeck, Andrew Cottle, Sam Guffey, Matt McHaney, Andrew Rider, Kyle Seithel, Bret Sutton, Greg Wisner.
Newcomers: Tyler Barth, Tyler Butler, Eric Cloninger, Dan McGonigle, Kyle Herrington, Johnny Squires, Keeston Terry.
Coaching staff: Mike Rooney, manager; Jack Gillis, Matt July, Brad Mayfield, Tim McElligott, Colin Pennington, coaches.
Manager’s comments: “We will be inexperienced, but by the end of the year we could be good.”
2008 finish: 53-8, Fifth District regular season and district tournament, Zone 2, Springfield Tournament and state champions, second in American Legion South Central regional.
2009 outlook: It may be unrealistic to predict the A’s will be as strong as last season. Still, this program should continue to be one of the state’s stronger programs and enter the season as the district favorite.
Schedule (home games played at Hidden Valley Park): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 27, Oak Grove Post 379; May 28, Independence VFW Post 100; May 31, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary;
June 2, at Independence Post 21; June 4, Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike; June 6-7, at Sedalia Post 642 Tournament; June 9, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 11, at Raytown Post 596; June 15, R. L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 17-21, at Mid-America Classic Tournament in St. Louis; June 22, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 23, Raytown Post 596; June 25, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 26, at R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 28, Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike; June 29, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears;
July 1-5, at Springfield Tournament; July 6, Independence Post 21; July 8-12, American Legion Wood Bat Invitational; July 13, Fifth District All-Star game at Hidden Valley Park; July 15, at Oak Grove Post 379; July 18-22, Fifth District Tournament at Hidden Valley Park; July 25-27, at Zone 2 Tournament at Sedalia; July 30-Aug, 2, state tournament at Hidden Valley Park; Aug. 5-10, regional tournament at Minnetonka (Minn.); Aug. 14-18, World Series at Fargo, N.D.

Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340
Top returners: Cole Caruthers, Chad Gordon, Garrin Hoppenstedt, Parker Jones, Shane Noland, Steven Snyder, Brandon Wade, James Wade.
Newcomers: Bryer Carpenter, Spencer Gearhart, Cody Knapp, Dylan Nix.
Coaching staff: Mike Kline, manager; Scott Cassidy, Andy Chamberlain, Jeff Gearhart, Gene Ryals, coaches.
Manager comments: “Our strengths will be defensive versatility and speed. Our weaknesses are pitching depth, catching depth and power.”
2008 finish: 24-29, tie for seventh place in Fifth District.
2009 outlook: Kline takes over as the manager, replacing the veteran Gary Stone. The team has some question marks with perhaps pitching as the No. 1 area of concern. But like past teams Post 340 should play hard and be competitive.
Schedule (home games at Crysler Stadium): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 30, Raytown Post 596;
June 1, Independence Post 21; June 3, at Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; June 4, at R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 6-7, at Sedalia Post 642 Tournament; June 8, R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June  9, at Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s’; June 10, at Harrisonville Post 42; June 15, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 17, at Harrisonville Post 42; June 19, Independence Post 21; June 20, Raytown Post 596; June 22, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 23, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 24, at Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; June 29, Oak Grove Post 379; June 30, at Oak Grove Post 379;
July 1-4, Springfield Tournament; July 6, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; July 8-12, American Legion Wood Bat Invitational;  July 13, Fifth District All-Star game at Hidden Valley Park; June 15, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; July 18-21, Fifth District Tournament at Hidden Valley Park.

Independence Post 21
Top returners: Chris Booth, Kyle Clifton, Jamie Hayes, Mike King, Jake Kissner, Will Sherman, Jordan Sloan.
Newcomers: Dillon Amaya, Tanner Burkett, Josh Felz, Kyle Gehrs, Tommy Harris, Donnie Hicks, Mitch Kilpatrick, Joe Monaco, William Nesbitt, James O’Dell.
Coaching staff: Tom Bush, manager; Mark Clifton, Jason Pleacher, Adam Switzer, Byron White, coaches.
Managers comments: “We have seven returners with four of them being starters last year. With 10 newcomers we will be somewhat young, but I am confident they can play and contribute at this level. I like our pitching with six pitchers who have high school varsity experience and three more pitchers who will throw when needed. I am concerned about scoring runs. If we stay healthy, make the routine plays and score a few runs, we should be able to compete in the Fifth District.”
2008 finish: 29-17, second place in Fifth District.
2009 outlook: Pitching is the name of the game. And Post 21 appears to have one of the deepest and most talented staffs in the district. As a result, it should be one of the teams to beat for the district title.
Schedule (home games played at Crysler Stadium): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 26, Oak Grove Post 379; May 29, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; May 30, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary;
June 1, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 2, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 4, at Harrisonville Post 42; June 6-7, Sedalia Post 642 Tournament; June 9, R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 10, at Raytown Post 596; June 11, at Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike; June 12, at Sedalia Post 642; June 14, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 16, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; June 17, at R.L. Clore  Post 189 Bulldogs; June 19, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 20, Sedalia Post 642; June 23, Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; June 25, at Oak Grove Post 379; June 26-28, at Sedalia Post 642/Warrensburg Post 131 Tournament;
July 1-5, Springfield Tournament; July 6, at Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; July 8-12, American Legion Wood Bat invitational; July 13, Fifth District All-Star game at Hidden Valley Park; July 14, Raytown Post 596; July 18-21, Fifth District Tournament at Hidden Valley Park; July 23-26, Zone 2 Tournament at Sedalia; July 30-Aug. 2, state tournament at Hidden Valley Park.

Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears
Top returners: Dustin Collins, Steven Dooley, Jacob Douthat, Dalton Drummond, Eddie High, Matt Lickey.
Newcomers: Omar Herrera, Dante Jones, Joe Kenny, Mason Murphy, Lee Noble, Garret Ogle, Andrew Phillips, Corey Stucker, Jo Jo Taisi.
Coaching staff: Ron Phillips, manager; Trent Douthat, Bryan Drummond, Randy Oliver, coaches.
Manager’s comments: “We return almost the entire starting varsity team from William Chrisman, knowledge of how each other play and confidence, strength and hunger. Weaknesses are relief pitching and no finesse pitcher.”
2008 finish: 2-33.
2009 outlook: Six returning players give the Bears a solid nucleus and hope for a more successful season. A top-five finish in the Fifth District would be a big plus.
Schedule: (home games played at Santa Fe Trail Park): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Chrysler Stadium; May 26, at Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike; May 27, Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike; May 28, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; May 29, at Independence Post 21; May 31, at Harrisonville;
June 2, at R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 3, Oak Grove Post 379; June 4, at Oak Grove Post 379; June 9, at Raytown Post 596; June 16, at Independence Post 21; June 17, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 22, Raytown Post 596; June 24, R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 27, St. Joseph Post 11; June 29, at Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s;
July 6, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; July 8-13, American Legion Wood Bat Invitational; July 14, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; July 15, Hi-Boy Drive IN/Post 340; July 16, Oak Grove Post 379.

Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary Outlaws
Top returners: Jake Dahlgren, Landon Fall, Daniel Fuchs, Jordan Garrett, Austin Hill, Jake Lutz, Evan Richey, Vince Saviano, Zach Teasley.
Newcomers: Cole Bass, Kyle Guzman, Kevin Morgan, Brad Phillips, Gavin Stark, Dustin Ulrich.
Coaching staff: Mike Gailey, manager; Dennis Covell, Matt Haug, Kurt Lutz, John Ulrich, coaches.
Manager’s comments: “We should be strong on defense. Defense should be very good. Hitting should be very good up and down the lineup.”
2008 finish: 24-21, tie for seventh place in Fifth District; first place Route 66 Classic Tournament; second place Manhattan (Kan.) Tournament.
2009 outlook: The Outlaws could enjoy their best season ever, with improvement over the 2009 Fifth District and overall records a strong possibility. The Outlaws will be led by many standouts off a strong Lee’s Summit North High School team.
Schedule (home games played at Legacy Park): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 27, at R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; May 30, at Independence Post 21; May 31, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s;
June 1, Raytown Post 579; June 4-7, at Manhattan (Kan.) Tournament; June 10, Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike; June 11, Oak Grove Post 379; June 13, R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs; June 14, Independence Post 21; June 15, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 16, at Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; June 17, at Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; June 23, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 25, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’; June 26-28, at Lebanon Tournament;
July 1, at Raytown Post 579; July 8, at American Legion Wood Bat Invitational; July 13, Fifth District All-Star game at Hidden Valley Park; July 14, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; July 16, at Oak Grove Post 379; July 18-22, Fifth District Tournament at Hidden Valley Park.

Lee’s Summit R.L. Clore Post 189 Bulldogs
Top returners: Taylor Froelich, Kramer Kidd, A.J. Sanchez, Austin Warren.
Newcomers: Brad Aubin, Billy Barnard, Banks Born, Ryan Hafner, Zach Harris, Andrew Holt, Cole Horn, Travis Hunt, Jordan Jobes.
Coaching staff: Terry Harris, manager; Bill Barnard, Nathan Bacon, Mark Holt, Dennis Randall.
Manager’s comments: “Returning strength is pitching plus the addition of a solid group of Lee’s Summit West varsity players should establish our new program with solid and enduring ties to our base school. Depth and pitching and versatility of our players should allow us to withstand injuries.”
2008 finish: 10-17, 9-9 fourth place Fifth District.
2009 outlook: An improvement over 2008 is likely not only because of the returning players but the additions from Lee’s Summit West High School, which was the Suburban Middle Six champion.
Schedule (home games played at Legacy Park): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 27, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary;
June 2, Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; June 4, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 7, at Oak Grove Post 379; June 8, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 9, at Independence Post 21; June 13, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 15, at Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 17, Independence Post 21; June 18, at Raytown Post 596; June 24, at Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears; June 26, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 29, Raytown Post 596; June 30, Oak Grove Post 379;
July 8-13, American Legion Wood Bat Invitational; July 14, Blue Springs Post 499/ Fike.

Oak Grove Post 379
Top returners: Braxton Anthony, Alex Hibler, Tyler Johnson, A.J. Langston, David Richards, Kyle Thornton, Matt Ritchie.
Newcomers: Payton Bosserman, Matt Estes, Thad Madsen, Justin McCarroll, Joe McLaughlin, Christian Nixdorf, Nate O’Neill, Milan Pleacher, Taylor Robinson, Tyler Mattlin.
Coaching staff: David Richards, manager; Joe Samborski, Kerry Shaw, coaches.
Manager’s comments: “A strong point is deeper pitching, but not sure we have one mega star but top to bottom we are better. Offensively, we have a good mix of players returning and new guys with a lot of promise. Our top of the lineup should be tough, and we have better players throughout the order. I am hopeful but we shall see. The Ron (Johnson) factor will be a key. He will missed in many ways.”
2008 finish: 25-22, sixth place Fifth District.
2009 outlook: It will be interesting how the team responds without veteran and personable manager Ron Johnson, who died last winter. David Richards takes over the team. He returns seven players. The play of 10 newcomers may hold the key to  the season’s success.
Schedule: (home games played at Webb Park, Oak Grove): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 26, at Independence Post 21; May 27, at Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; May 28, at Sedalia Post 642; May 30, at Raytown Post 596;
June 2, Harrisonville Post 42; June 3, at Independence VFW Post 1000; June 4, Independence VFW Post 1000;  June 7, R.L. Clore Post 189;l June 8, at Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; June 10, Sedalia Post 642; June 11, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 12, at Harrisonville Post 42; June 15, at Milbank (S.D.); June 16, at Aberdeen  (S.D); June 18-21, at Minot (N.D) Tournament; June 23, New Ulm (Minn.) Mankato (Minn.) at New Ulm; June 25, Independence Post 21; June 27, Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; June 29, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 30, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340, home;
July 2, Raytown Post 596; July 5, at Warrensburg Post 131; July 6, at R.L. Clore Post 189; July 8-12, American Legion Wood Bat Invitational; July 13, Fifth District All-Star game at Hidden Valley Park; July 15, Blue Spring Rod’s Sports A’s; July 16, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; 18-22, Fifth District Tournament at Hidden Valley Park; July 25-27, Zone 2 Tournament at Sedalia.

Raytown Post 596
Top returners: Tyler Fleming, Chase Kuehl, Mike Lynch, Bryan Morris, Ryan O’Hara, Cody Robinson, Vince Spilker, Joel Steffen, Joey Tucker.
Newcomers: Kyle Davis, Marcus Douglas, Dustin Hardy, Sam Janet, Tydell Love, Aaron Smith, John Smith.
Coaching staff: Mike Meany, manager; Jamie Johnson, Steve Spilker, coaches.
Manager’s comments: “Position and pitching depth should show improvement. As always, the Fifth District will be tough and soon we will find out how tough.”
2008 finish: 19-36, tie for seventh place Fifth District.
2009 outlook: Because of nine returners, it shapes up as an improved season for Post 596. Pitching could be a strong point.
Schedule: (home games played at Raytown South High School): May 22-25, Memorial Day Tournament at Crysler Stadium; May 29, at Harrisonville Post 42; May 30, Oak Grove Post 389; May 31, Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340;
June 1, at Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; June 4-7, at Manhattan (Kan.) Tournament; June 9, Independence VFW Post 1000; June 10, Independence Post 21; June 11, Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 13, Harrisonville Post 42; June 14, at Sedalia Post 642, June 15, St. Joseph Post 11; June 18, R.L. Clore Post 189; June 20, at Hi-Boy Drive In/Post 340; June 21, at Warrensburg Post 131; June 22, Independence VFW Post 1000; June 23, at Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s; June 26-28, Sedalia Post 642/Warrensburg Post 131 Tournament; June 29, at R.L. Clore Post 189;
July 1, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary; July 2, at Oak Grove Post 379; July 3, at Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; July 6, Blue Springs Post 499/Fike; July 9-12, at Boulder (Colo.), Tournament; July 13, Fifth District All-Star game at Hidden Valley Park; July 18-22, Fifth District Tournament at Hidden Valley Park; July 25-25, Zone 2 Tournament at Sedalia; 30-Aug. 4, state tournament at Hidden Valley Park.