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Season starts Monday for Bemdji VFW Baseball team

The Bemidji VFW baseball team begins its season Monday at Perham and the home opener will be Thursday against Fergus Falls.

The majority of this year's roster features 15-year-old players and the only returning players are Collin Leif and Mason Bellew.

"Last year we had many younger kids that we pegged for this year's high school varsity," said VFW coach Brad Johnson. "The group I have now is young and I will have most of them for two years. I like that situation because it gives me more time to work with them and groom them to be ready to play in the state VFW tournament next year."

Bemidji will be hosting the state event in 2011 and will have an automatic berth in the tournament.

The early portion of the summer will be used by Johnson to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of his players.

"I'm trying to get to know them and they are trying to get to know me," Johnson said. "What I have noticed already, though, is that they are athletic."

In addition to Leif (a catcher) and Bellew (a first baseman) the 16-year-olds on the VFW roster include Jordan Sweep (second base and outfield), Trent Baker (shortstop and pitcher), Cody Jenkins (infield and pitcher), Sam Dwyer (infield, outfield and pitcher), Dom Hayle (outfield) and Nick Conner (outfield and pitcher).

The 15-year-olds include Drew Peterson (outfield and pitcher), Cody Labernick (infield, catcher and pitcher), Devin Barrett (outfield and pitcher), Ryan Hirt (first base and pitcher), Nick Hovila (outfield and pitcher), Connor McNallan (infield and pitcher), Mark Fenner (infield), Mitch Buckanaga (infield) and Billy Baumgartner (infield).

All nine 15 year olds were members of the Jacks freshmen team this spring that ended its season 25-2.

"I stress playing good defense and pitching," Johnson sad. "If you play good defense and pitch well the offense will take care of itself and you will be in most of the games."

Bemidji is in a district that includes Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Perham, East Grand Forks and Detroit Lakes.

VFW Schedule

(All dates are doubleheaders)


14 Bemidji at Perham, 5 p.m.

17 Fergus Falls at Bemidji, 4 p.m.

21 Bemidji at D. Lakes, 5 p.m.

23 Bemidji at Fergus Falls, 1 p.m.

25-27 Bemidji at G.Forks tournament

30 EGF at Bemidji, 2 p.m.


7 Moorhead at Bemidji, 4 p.m.

8 Perham at Bemidji, 2 p.m.

11 Bemidji at Fargo Jets, 2 p.m.

12 D.Lakes at Bemidji, 5 p.m.

14 Bemidji at EGF, 2 p.m.

17 Fargo Jets at Bemidji, 2 p.m.

22-25 District tournament at EGF

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200