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Numbers game hurting DL’s Legion Post 15 team

Post 15’s Taylor Magnuson (10) slides into second base during a recent home game. Post 15 has struggled with filling out a full roster this season for various reasons. BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD

Participation numbers have not been an issue for the Detroit Lakes American Legion baseball team.

That changed this summer.

Last weekend during the F-M Invitational, Detroit Lakes needed to add two players to its roster in order to avoid playing short-handed.

Detroit Lakes was 0-5 during the tournament and had to be creative filling out its lineup card. Several of the team’s 15 players were either unavailable or injured.

By Sunday, Detroit Lakes was facing the possibility of only having eight players available in its game against Fargo Post 2, but Kavon Schumacher and Sam Beck were added to the team prior to the June 30 deadline for roster additions.

“I had to talk with Jeff Miller (District 9 American Legion baseball director), and he allowed us to add the players because of all our injuries,” DL head coach Mitch McLeod said.

McLeod said several factors have contributed to the sharp decline of ballplayers on the team, which has a 4-13 record.

“This is the first time we have had this problem,” McLeod said. “I understand that with a town the size of Detroit Lakes we have to rely on the baseball players we have. Our numbers are going to be smaller to begin with compared to teams in Fargo that draw from several high schools and Moorhead, which has larger numbers to draw from.”

McLeod said three players who were eligible to play decided not to come out for the team, which on top of injuries impacted the team.

Summer practices for high school sports, work commitments and vacations have been hurdles that Post 15 has always had to work around.

“We understand that the kids have to work,” McLeod said.

“We also understand that out athletes play multiple sports and have commitments in the summer with practices.

“It’s never been an issue in the past because we always have had 17 or 18 players,” McLeod added. “If I’m missing three or four, we would still have 13 or 14 players playing on a game.”

Injuries have taken a toll on Post 15 of late.

Three players on the roster – Rich Grossman, Cole Hegg and Stephen Erb – are on the team’s disabled list.

Erb, an incoming Concordia football recruit, injured his shoulder during the Minnesota All-Star football game on Saturday. Erb is Post 15’s leadoff batter and is batting above .400 this season.

Grossman, the team’s No. 2 hitter, is recovering from a concussion.

Two eighth-graders, including McLeod’s son, Kai, are seeing playing time. Only two players who will be seniors next fall are on the team, a number McLeod said is low.

McLeod said the lower numbers appear to be only temporary.

“I look at the numbers in our ninth and eighth grade,” said McLeod, who is the activities director at Detroit Lakes and the former head baseball coach at North Dakota State. “We have good numbers coming up. The kids that have moved up this summer have done well.

“We just are not as deep as other teams. Going into the playoffs, we should be OK.”

Article written by Tom Mix of the Forum News Service

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