Twins excited about new season

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2004

Everybody has seen a cool movie trailer only to go to that movie and be disappointed with the results.

The American Legion Twins are hoping this season is one where the movie turns out as good as the preview.

In 2003, the Twins struggled through a 10-34 campaign. After the season, though, the Twins played in the 2004 American Legion Preview Tournament.

The tournament allowed teams to use four players off the varsity roster. The rest had to come from junior teams. The Twins won five straight games at the tournament to take home the championship.

"We're real excited with the talent and the depth this year," Twins head coach John Kennedy said. "It's more than we've had before."

The Twins will end up with 26 to 30 kids in the program. Last year, there were 23 or 24 players in the program. One area where the depth of the Twins will help is in the pitching department.

"In the past, if a guy has gotten in trouble after two innings, there hasn't always been another guy to turn to," Kennedy said. "This year, we'll have another pitcher to put in."

That is particularly important for the Twins due to the nature of their schedule. The Twins are long drives from Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, so the Twins tend to play doubleheaders clustered on weekends.

When there are four games scheduled each weekend, the depth of pitching becomes important.

"It's a tough schedule, but it's good for us," Kennedy said. "It toughens them up for all the back-to-back games at the tournaments at the end of the season."

Kennedy said all of the arms the Twins have will be helped by Twins pitching coach Mike Smith. Smith is a 1999 graduate of Skyview High School and a former player for the Twins. Last year, he closed out his career as a pitcher for the NCAA Division I New Mexico State Aggies.

"We're real excited to have Mike Smith working with the kids," Kennedy said. "He's fresh out of college. The kids are like sponges right now. They're just soaking up everything he's saying."

The Twins have a number of returners from last season, and Kennedy said all of them will get a shot at pitching. The returners are Chase Townsend, Jacob Madrid, Jeff Kennedy, Luke Mese, Alex Johansen, Brett Toering and Erich Simpson.

Kennedy said newcomers to the varsity also will see time on the mound. Those folks are Kevin Epperheimer, Shawn Isaacs, Cole Chappell, Tyler Chappell and Jordan Waters.

Scott Foster and Garrett Bossert are other newcomers that should see playing time. Both are outfielders.

Last weekend, the Twins got off to a rough start, losing two to West and one of two to Dimond. The Twins had trouble hitting, fielding and pitching, but Kennedy said there is no cause for alarm. West and Dimond have already been through a high school season, while Twins players don't get that high school season.

"They already have 10 or 11 games in," Kennedy said of the Anchorage schools. "We're just taking it a game at a time.

"Once everyone gets going, we should be able to compete with anybody."

Kennedy said the Twins only had one session of batting practice where the pitches came all the way from the mound before last weekend's games.

The Twins have been practicing every night this week to prepare for this weekend's games. The Twins host East for a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and Bartlett for a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader Sunday.

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