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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Home, home on the Range: Dodge legion baseball ready to begin

  • With the high school baseball season under wraps and gone for another year, many young athletes turn to summer legion ball to keep their swing smooth and continue to work on the fundamentals that could turn them into college prospects.


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  • With the high school baseball season under wraps and gone for another year, many young athletes turn to summer legion ball to keep their swing smooth and continue to work on the fundamentals that could turn them into college prospects.
         In Dodge City, the Red Demon baseball team transforms into the junior and senior Rangers during the summer months. The junior Rangers are comprised of players 17 and under, while the senior legion squad is a 19 and under unit.
         Both teams are coming off vastly different seasons a summer ago, and each group of players will be looking to make their mark in the upcoming weeks.
         The junior Rangers are made up of mostly freshmen and sophomore baseball players from the Red Demon program who spent their time in the spring participating with the "C" team or the junior varsity.
         "All of the guys on this year's junior Rangers team will be 16 years old or younger, with three guys that were sophomores and the rest that were freshmen," said junior Rangers head coach Daniel Rogers. "Basically the legion teams are an extension of the high school program, and we're trying to prepare these kids for the future and get them ready to play varsity baseball next year."
         Last summer was a successful one for Rogers' club, as they finished with an above average winning percentage and winning nearly 25 games. Their progress as a summer team was evident during the Red Demons' varsity season, with a plethora of underclassmen making big contributions on the diamond.
         For Rogers, the whole goal of the junior Rangers is to get them ready for Demon varsity baseball.
         "We'll be trying to focus on the fundamentals during the summer with the younger guys and try to prepare them to be able to play varsity baseball within the next two years," he said. "It's all about refining things and going over things we went through in the spring."
         As for the senior Rangers, they will be looking to improve upon a dismal record in 2011. A majority of the starting lineup will come from the high school roster this past spring, with 3-4 of the players competing as recent Dodge City graduates.
         With a good chunk of the varsity roster playing for the senior circuit this summer, they will be hoping to change the tides that saw them lose eight games in the spring by one run. Those close defeats cost them a shot at a Western Athletic Conference title and a potential trip to State.
         Senior Rangers head coach Max Taylor says that the team is loaded with quality pitching, with 8-9 arms expected to carry the load throughout the compact schedule.
         While the junior Rangers maintain the outlook of preparing players to make the next level leap to varsity, the varsity and graduate athletes on the senior squad are mainly looking to get plate appearances and fix some flaws before college tryouts.
    Page 2 of 2 -      "Basically baseball is all about staying in a groove, if you can carry that groove throughout the summer, you'll be 100 percent going into whatever college tryout they want to do," Taylor said. "We're out there to work and prepare them for the next level of baseball."
         Despite not having a conference championship to compete for, there are still tournament titles and State legion crowns out there to be won. Taylor fully expects his squad to come out and play hard on a day in, day out basis.
         "We're looking to make some noise in our tournaments and we expect to be a winning team," Taylor said. "We're not out there to be below average, we're looking to have a solid winning record. We want to get each player better, but also win some games and represent Dodge City and the community well."
         Both teams will play a tightened 30-35 game schedule during the summer months. Depending upon how many games the Rangers win in their tournaments, they could play up to 50 games before the season comes to an end.
         Both teams began their schedule against Hays last night, with the juniors on the road against Hays and the seniors at home facing Hays. They will each host one tournament this summer, with the junior Ranger tournament scheduled for this weekend and the senior Ranger tourney going the following weekend at Demon Field.

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