Loaded with talent and deep in numbers, the Fort Mill American Legion Post 43 team opens its season next week.
Coming off a disappointing 6-14 season, where it missed the playoffs for the first time in years, this year's team has 19 players on it, four of which are college age.
Indian Land's Shawn Thomas was redshirted this past season at Coker College and Fort Mill's David Flanagan played at Montreat College this past season.
There are also two other college-aged players on the team in Fort Mill grads Alex Bebeau and Frank Mitlin.
In addition to the college players, the team is divided up among players from Indian Land, Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools. There are four Indian Land players on the team: Alex Matzeit, Daniel Thomas, Eric Johnson and Alex Brown.
There are four from Fort Mill: Jonathan Romano, Michael Baker, Shane Whitman, and Chandler Savage The remaining players are from Nation Ford and include Kent Peterson, Steven Simpson, Spencer Yarnell, Cody Johnson, Scott Harkey, Kyle Whitman and Anna Kimbrell.
This year's team also has two new coaches, Fort Mill alum Erik Baddeley and Nation Ford assistant baseball coach Mike Matkovich. Baddeley graduated in 1992 from Fort Mill and played college baseball for two years at North Greenville and one at USC-Aiken. He has coached AAU baseball from 2002 to 2006 in Charlotte as an assistant with the South Charlotte Panthers.
Baddeley said he is glad to see participating in the Legion program up and hopes to get things turned around.
"I want to improve and get this team back in the playoffs," he said. "We are expecting to win. That is why you play. We want to be successful."
• May 26 at Lancaster,
• May 27 vs. Chester,
• May 29 vs. Rock Hill,