BELOIT—The composition of the Beloit Legion baseball program for the summer of 2022 says a lot about the state of the sport at Beloit Memorial High School and Beloit Turner.
After playing three seasons as a co-op with Janesville, each community has enough players to field its own program again.
The Beloit Legion will field a senior and junior team this summer and be known as the Bandits.
The Senior Legion may as well be called the Trojans. Every single player on the roster is from Turner. The Junior Legion team is a mix with six Beloit Memorial players and eight from Turner.
Junior Legion head coach Rick Mitchell is well-acquainted with the Purple Knights. His son, Brooks, was a sophomore who played on the varsity this spring. Due to lack of numbers, Beloit Memorial did not field a jayvee team.
“We only had three seniors and the kids who tried out (for Legion ball) were definitely trying out for the Junior Legion team,” Mitchell said.
“It was rough this spring. Kids like my son can play defensively in the Big Eight, but when you’re talking about batting against juniors and seniors from Sun Prairie, Janesville Craig and Verona you’re talking about pitchers who consistently throw 75-85 mph. That’s quite an adjustment for an underclassmen in season..
“I was at virtually every game and we weren’t losing by a little. We were losing 15-1, 10-0, over and over. After a while it wears on them.”
How does a program that had reached the state tournament just five years ago and has a storied history in the sport find itself in such a condition?. Turner was also at state in 2017, but has experienced no dropoff and continues to produce outstanding players.
Mitchell said there a number of factors involved with the Purple Knights.
“When I was a kid you didn’t have a problem playing multiple sports because you mainly played the sport that was in season,” he said. “Nowadays kids who consider themselves basketball players or soccer players first are just doing that in the summer. High schools have sweat leagues or they’re running all over the state playing in AAU tournaments in the summer. Kids get pulled in different directions. Turner, for whatever reason, has kids who currently are focused on baseball.
“We also have kids (at Beloit Memorial) who were good baseball players growing up now just focusing on other things, like golf, for whatever reason. Maybe that’s because lately the Beloit Memorial baseball program hasn’t been that great.”
Mitchell isn’t sure when the Knights will turn it around.
“I don’t know if there is a lot of talent coming up,” he said. “There are a few kids playing travel ball who will be freshmen next year who will step right in and play, but you’re still talking about freshmen playing in the Big Eight. That’s rough.”
He and assistant A.J. Greenlee will try to do their part by coaching up the kids on his Junior Legion team, from both schools.
“We have a schedule of 18 to 20 regular season games and a dozen of those will be at home,” he said. “We’ll play most of our games at the (YMCA) Complex. They’ve had some problems with the new turf field there, so if it still isn’t ready we’ll probably be on diamond 3 out there. Or we also might play some games at Pohlman Field if there is a conflict with the Senior Legion.”
Mitchell’s team will open at Racine on Monday and host Monroe on Tuesday.
The Senior Legion, managed by Brad Farrell, opens on June 17 in a tournament at Janesville’s Riverside Park against Middleton at 5 p.m.
• JUNIOR LEGION ROSTER: Cesar Alfaro, Andy Buckley, Brody Berg, Sam Erickson, Dustin Foss, Hayden Frey, Aidan Greenlee, Ethan Halon, Brooks Mitchell, Noah Pfundheller, Zack Ries, Mitchell Stuessy, Jordan Toubl, Brayden Ward, Owen West.
• JUNIOR LEGION SCHEDULE: June 13: at Racine, 6:30 p.m.; 14: MONROE, 6 p.m.; 16: DELAVAN, 6 p.m.; 20: at Kettle Moraine, 6 p.m.; 21: GENOA CITY, 5:45 p.m.; 23: WHITEWATER, 5:45 p.m.; 24: at Fort Atkinson HS vs. Kettle Moraine 17U, 5 p.m.; 25: at Fort Atkinson (Jones Park) vs. Mukwonago 17U, 11:15 a.m.; 25: at Fort Atkinson (Jones Park) vs. Fort Atkinson 17U, 3:45 p.m.; 27: KETTLE MORAINE 17U, 3:45 p.m.; 28: KETTLE MORAINE 16U, 5:45 p.m.; 28: WHITEWATER, 7:30 p.m.; 30: at Brodhead (HS field), 6 p.m.
July 5: at Kettle Moraine 17U, 6 p.m.; 6: at Genoa City, 6 p.m.; 7: BRODHEAD, 6 p.m.; 12: RACINE, 6:30 p.m.; 15-17: Regionals.
• SENIOR LEGION ROSTER: Michael Cook, JT Fell, Jace Fossum, Konnor Giddley, Eric Halon, Mason Hoenig, Connor Hughes, Jayce Kurth, Will Lauterbach, Brayden McMahon, Braeden Ovist, Cal Ries, Jon Torsini.
• SENIOR LEGION SCHEDULE: June 17: at Janesville (Riverside Park) vs. Middleton, 5 p.m.; 18: at Janesville vs. Hartland, 12:15 p.m.; 18: at Janesville vs. Waukesha, 2:30 p.m.; 19: at Janesville vs. Janesville, 5 p.m.; 21: BELLEVILLE, 7 p.m.; 22: JANESVILLE, 7:15 p.m.; 25: at Menomonee Falls, 11 a.m.; 25: at Menomonee Falls, 1:30 p.m.; 28: at Janesville, 7 p.m.; 29: WAUKESHA, 7 p.m.; 30: at Genoa City, 6 p.m.
July 5: at Belleville, 7 p.m.; 8: at Fort Atkinson (Jones Park) vs. Oconomowoc, 5 p.m.; 9: at Fort Atkinson (HS) vs. Janesville, 11 a.m.; 9: at Fort Atkinson (Jones Park) vs. Genoa City, 4:15 p.m.; 10: at Fort Atkinson (Jones Park) vs. Fort, 2:15 p.m.; 12: GENOA CITY, 6 p.m.; 14: at Hartland, 6 p.m.; 16: MENOMONEE FALLS, 11 a.m.; 16: MENOMONEE FALLS, 1:30 p.m.; 18: at Waukesha, 6 p.m.; 22-24: Regionals.