Having an experienced roster can lead a team in one of two different directions.
Will the 2000 edition of the American Legion Post 20 Twins be savvy, or will the team merely be complacent?
"It's true we have a lot of players returning to this year's team," said Twins manager Lance Coz, who starts his 25th year at the helm of Post 20. "The thing that worries me is that when we've won state championships in the past, it's been with a mix of youth and experience.
"Experience is always nice, but you also need that hunger that youth brings."
The Twins will start finding out if they have appropriate chemistry this weekend, when they get into the thick of their season with a pair of doubleheaders at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
Saturday, Post 20 faces off against West at 12:30 p.m., while Sunday the Twins line up against Chugiak. On both days, a nine-inning game will be followed by a seven-inning tilt.
Last year, the Twins finished with a 30-22 overall record, losing to Service in the semifinals of the Alaska State American Legion Baseball Tournament.
Severin Gardner said coming so close to a state title will keep the experienced players from getting complacent this season.
"I think we're all feeling the same way about last year," Gardner said. "We still have something to prove this year."
The Twins lost just four seniors off last year's squad, but all played major roles on the team. Mike Smith, who returns to the team this summer as a pitching coach, was the team's top pitcher and Ben McGarry was second on the team in batting average and third in RBIs.
However, in the both the hitting and pitching departments the majority of talent will be returning.
At the plate, Post 20 welcomes back Paul John Zobeck, a 2000 graduate of Soldotna High School. Zobeck led the Twins in home runs (nine) and batting average (.376) last season. He also was second in RBIs (34).
After Zobeck and McGarry, Post 20's next five best batters, ranked by batting average, return. Those players are Nick Christensen (.356), Gardner (.352), Aaron Sparks (.351), Joey Newby (.349) and Mike Sauer (.331, 46 RBIs).
Sparks is still having problems with leg injuries and Coz was not sure how much production he would get out of him this season.
Other returnees who had at least 45 at-bats for the varsity squad last year are Willie Castillo, Josh Edmondson, Josh Overturf and Jason Kornfield.
Post 20 returns similar experience on the mound, with four hurlers coming back who appeared in at least 10 games. That group includes Newby (3-3, four saves, 55 strikeouts), Gardner (2-3), Castillo (3-1) and Overturf (2-3).
Coz also feels good about the new blood he should be able to inject into the team.
Danny Bookey, a 2000 graduate of Kenai Central, just started playing Legion ball last year, but had a solid pitching performance against the South Peninsula Storm Wednesday. He also showed he could swing the bat in a varsity appearance last year, going 2-for-3.
Shaun Williams, who will be a senior at Soldotna next year, also saw limited varsity playing time last year. He was pressed into action at the state tournament due to injuries to Sparks and Kornfield.
Leo Sanchez, who is home schooled, also should give Post 20 help at third base and behind the plate in his final year of Legion eligibility.
Other young players Coz mentioned were Eric Newby, Gresham Oliver and Quincy Bird.
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