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Fry, Airedales opt for summer legion schedule 5/24/22

Fry, Airedales opt for summer legion schedule

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Brian Fry had never forgotten the power of American Legion baseball. It was on a diamond, almost 30 years ago, when he got the itch to coach while watching one of Brooks Witherspoon’s old Airedale teams compete. 


“The way he (Witherspoon) coached, I knew I wanted to coach,” Fry said.


This summer, the Airedales are back in the American Legion game with a healthy schedule to boot. In recent years, Alma and other area high schools had opted to play a two-week summer schedule of about 10 to 12 games.


Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, Witherspoon played a tough AA legion schedule.  


Fry is ready to get the Airedales back to the next level. 


“Luke Weatherford and I were talking about scheduling summer games,” Fry said. “He said, ‘You know, we’re thinking about legion.’ And then Mark Kincannon, the (American Legion) state commissioner, called and said, ‘why don’t you guys jump on board.’ 


“So we’re opening next week with Northside.”


Despite graduating 10 seniors, the Airedales return a number of key players for 2023, including middle infielders Derek Hatcher and Branson Brogan. The two of them combined for 54 hits and 36 RBIs this past spring. 


Senior Axl Spain returns in center field and might make a nice leadoff hitter. 


Alma lost its corner infielders, catcher, and right fielder. 


“We do have some holes to fill next year,” Fry said. “So No. 1, we want to develop some pitching, and No. 2, fill the holes that we have. We’re all excited about it.”


Senior left-hander Noah Likens will anchor the pitching staff. Senior first baseman Nathan Machen, sophomore left fielder Cameron Curd and sophomore catcher Shepherd Osborn are also back. 


Fry said he plans to carry 18 players on the roster. Some of the incoming freshmen may get a chance to play. 


“We’re going to take 18 on the roster,” he said. “We’re going to play 17-and-under, so it will mostly be underclassmen. We’ll have a couple of upperclassmen that will play also. It’s important for us to play as many games as we can and play upper-level competition, and keeping the numbers down (18), it will give our guys a lot of reps.”


The Airedales are hopeful of playing 25 to 30 games, the coach said. 


“We added four more games last week,” Fry said. “Right now we’re up to 28 games, and that’s with the zone tournament scheduled for July. We’ve got a potential to play 30 to 32 games this summer.”