American Legion summer baseball season in full swing
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The cracking of the bat and the roar of the crowd can be heard across Helper throughout the summer months.
This past weekend, the annual American Legion tournament was hosted on the Helper field. Like the years past, the tournament attracted teams and fans from across Utah and several surrounding states.
Summer baseball fever was high and the action was hot.
The Helper team kicked off the tourney in style as they hosted a league team from Snow Canyon.
According to Helper coach, Jeff Cisneros, the home team played good and swung the bat well.
"Troy Grundy stepped up big for us against Snow Canyon. He was able to do quite well at bat for us and that gave us the upper hand in the ball game," explained Cisneros.
Helper kicked off the four-day tournament with a 5-4 victory over Snow Canyon.
The win lifted the teams spirits after they had lost to the Kearns number one team the previous day in a league game.
"We were kind of down after losing the night before, but the win on Thursday gave us some confidence as the tournament got underway," the Helper coach explained.
The following day, Helper returned to their home field to compete against a Pocatello legion team. The luck had run out for the home team as they began to struggle early on in the game.
"We found ourselved down, 8-1 after the first inning. We knew we had a long road ahead of us, but we tried our best to make things work," stated the Helper coach.
As the team continued to struggle through their second tournament game, 22 different players were able to compete for Helper.
By the end of the match up, Helper had lost to Pocatello, 16-7.
"This game did give us a chance to play a lot of the guys who had not been on the field much this year. We were able to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of each athlete and it gave everyone a chance to compete," Cisneros pointed out.
During Saturday's event, Helper stepped up to compete against the Kearns number two team.
Although many league coaches feel that the number one team will be the team to beat this year, the second team stepped up and played well convincing Cisneros that they are a pretty strong competitor for the league title as well.
"We struggled on Saturday, but I felt that the Kearns team was quite talented. Most of our problem was that we made too many mistakes. The other half of the story is that this Kearns team is good," pointed out the Helper coach.
Once again, the Helper coaching staff threw several young players into the game and gave most of the team a chance to compete.
"Games like this give everyone a chance to compete and get ready for the season. Each year, we treat this tournament as a learning experience. We get to know the athletes better and they start learning how to play as a team. That is exactly what we did this past weekend," Cisneros explained.
By the end of Saturday's game, Helper had suffered their second tournament loss by the final, 11-4.
During the final day of competiton, the Helper legion ball club competed against St. George.
The southern Utah team is comprised of athletes from Pine View and Dixie High School and is thought by many league coaches as being the team to beat in their region this year.
Helper continued to struggle with mistakes and was unable to pull out a second win during the four-day tourney. Rather, Helper lost to the St. George team, 16-4.
The Helper coaches mixed things up once more as they kicked off the game with quite a few young athletes playing.
"Trevor Thompson who is only 15 hit really well for us against St. George. This is the first time he's competed on this team, but he did an outstanding job for us. Mickey Johnson also played real well during Sunday's game," explained Cisneros.
During the tournament, an all-star game took place which was comprised of athletes from each team who participated in the weekend event.
Three players from each team were selected and Helper players Grundy, Jamal Lewis and Jeff Fielder represented their team.
"Fielder played last year for us and did a great job. This year however, we only have him until the first of July. We will miss him late in the season, but it has been a pleasure watching him compete," Cisneros stated.
Despite the disappointing tournament outing, Helper looks forward to continuing season action and feels that things will turn around in their favor.
"It is still early in the year and we are learning from our mistakes. Hopefully, it won't be long and we will start winning ball games," concluded the Helper coach.
The team hit the road Monday to compete against Cyprus. Helper will then return Tuesday night to host Olympus at 6 p.m. and will also compete at home Wednesday evening against Granger.
The fast paced season will then continue on Friday as Helper hosts a Montana team in double header action.