BEMIDJI - The excitement of the runner-up finish at the state high school baseball tournament is still evident among the players, coaches and fans but many of them must now turn their attention to a new season and new challenges.
Bemidji's Legion baseball team begins its season 8 p.m. today in St. Cloud against Willmar in the opening round of the St. Cloud Tournament.
On Friday the Legion will face St. Cloud at noon and Sauk Rapids at 5 p.m. The action will conclude Saturday with the semifinals and the final.
The compact regular season will include 21 games from June 21 through July 10. It will conclude July 13-17 with the Gopher Classic in Bloomington.
The sub-district tournament begins July 19 at the home of the higher seed and the district meet is July 25-28 in St. Cloud.
The state Legion tournament will be Aug. 2-6 in Chaska. A year ago Bemidji advanced to the state meet.
This year's squad includes all 10 starters from this year's state tournament team. That list includes Mason Bellew, Nick Hovila, Connor McNallan, Mitchell Hendricks, Sam Dwyer, Nick Conner, Cody Jenkins, Cody Rutledge, Ryan Hirt and Collin Leif.
Joining them is Aaron Nissen, who helped lead Blackduck to this spring's Class A state meet.
Also among the players on the roster are Zach Solheim and Dom Hayle, who played on the Legion squad last summer. Completing the roster are Collin Rutledge, Trent Baker, Mitch Buckanaga and Cody Labernik.
Mike Fogelson is the Legion's head coach and Tim Vagle is his assistant.
Bemidji's first home appearance will be June 28 with a doubleheader against Perham. Other home twinbills are set for July 2 against Brainerd, July 3 against Grand Rapids, July 6 against Grand Forks and July 10 against Little Falls.
Bemidji enters the Legion campaign ranked second to Burnsville in the state poll. Eden Prairie, Eastview and Grand Rapids round out the top five.
2012 Legion Schedule
21 Willmar at St. Cloud Inv., 8 p.m.
22 St. Cloud at St. Cloud Inv., noon
22 Sauk Rapids at St. Cloud, 5 p.m.
23 St. Cloud Inv. semis, final, TBD
26 at Little Falls (DH), 5 p.m.
28 Perham (DH), 5 p.m.
29 at Grand Forks (DH), 5 p.m.
2 Brainerd (DH), 5 p.m.
3 Grand Rapids (DH), 5 p.m.
6 Grand Forks (DH), 5 p.m.
9 at Brainerd (DH), 5 p.m.
10 Little Falls (DH), 5 p.m.
13-17 at Gopher Classic, TBD
19-20 Sub-Districts (high seed)
25-28 District (at St. Cloud)
2-6 State tournament (Chaska)