Townsend looks to reload during Legion ball

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 24, 2013



 LAPLACE – St. Charles Catholic has typically held its own during the American Legion baseball season.

That comes despite its status as one of the few non-Class 5A schools to participate. Also, in spite of the fact that unlike many other squads, SCC – competing under the banner of Townsend Homes – doesn’t bring back its seniors or recent alumni.

“A lot of people put everything into wins and losses during the summer. We use the summer to find out who we can count on next (prep) season,” said Townsend Homes coach Wayne Stein. “It’s not a final exam, and we’re not going to just give up on someone who struggles during the summer. But it does determine a starting point for our depth chart.”

This summer represents Stein’s debut as Townsend/St. Charles’ head baseball coach after a long tenure as Paul Waguespack’s assistant coach. The two have flipped roles, with Waguespack now serving as Stein’s assistant coach.

Townsend Homes does roster seven seniors-to-be. However, the roster overall is young, featuring just two juniors and eight sophomores.

“That sophomore class is going to be pushing for playing time,” said Stein.

The team must replace a number of key contributors, starting with Chad McNeil, who was the team’s ace pitcher and leading hitter last season. Dylan Gillies, Luke Poche, David Bleakley and Brandon Zimmer were also key contributors who graduated, leaving the team with some key holes to fill.

“We lose a lot of power, guys that could hit it out of the park,” said Stein. “But we’re also gaining some speed. We’ll run a little more and play the way we used to play.”

Jon Brown is one player Stein has high hopes for. He’ll play centerfield this summer and will push for time on the mound.

“He’s our future,” said Stein. “He’s got, by far, one of the highest upsides on our (pitching) staff.”

Connor Western is another player Stein believes has a chance to step up. Brady Becker, Ian Mitchell and Dane Authement are each young position players that could earn time.

“I’ll give you a lot of names. The truth is, we’re going to play a lot of guys,” said Stein. “The only way to evaluate these guys is to put them up against this strong competition we’ll see. We might have a lineup one day and a completely different one the next. We’ll probably see 14-15 different guys out there.”

Kameron Keller and Austin Weber figure to be staples atop the lineup after a tremendous prep season.

“We go as those two go,” said Stein.

Lefthander Connor Smith will lead the pitching rotation. Weber, Mason Bordelon, B.J. Waguespack, Brandon Klibert and Colin Bosco will also vie to secure spots.

“We’ve got five seniors out there who have been in this program,” said Stein.

“So you’re not as nervous with these guys headed out there. They’ve been here.”

Townsend Homes opens play today at 1 p.m. against De La Salle-based Post 307. That team will also draw talent from other teams in the city. Kirsch-Rooney Stadium will host the contest. After that, Townsend Homes has a week off until next Friday.

“They’ve got a couple of former Rummel grads, as well … we’re expecting it to be tough,” said Stein. “We’re planning to throw four, five, or six guys and get them back in a rhythm.”