By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — For the second year in a row, the Marshfield Post 54 American Legion baseball organization will host a state tournament.
Last July Marshfield hosted the Class AAA state varsity tournament, and this year it will be the junior team’s turn.
The 17U Wisconsin Junior State American Legion Baseball Tournament will be from July 19-23 at Jack Hackman Field.
The Marshfield team earns an automatic spot in the tournament and will open up against the winner of the Manitowoc Regional at 7 p.m. on July 19. Should Marshfield win its regional, which is being played at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point from July 12-15, the second-place team there would qualify for the state tournament.
Post 54 Baseball Director Mark Decker said having the varsity tournament last year has definitely helped in putting together this year’s junior event.
“Everything we did at the state tournament last year we did during the season. From food sales, beer sales, it was all organized,” Decker said. “Everything went pretty smoothly. Mother Nature gave us a bit of a problem with some rain, but we were able to reorganize, and the team (was) very cooperative and adjusted well to the delays.
“We need to make sure we have enough volunteers, but once the games start and if the weather is good, it takes care of itself.”
Marshfield’s team has been on a roll lately, ending its regular season on an eight-game winning streak, including three victories at its annual home tournament to continue a somewhat improbable run that makes them one of the favorites at state.
Coach Tim Spaeth said he was not sure the Blue Devils had enough starting pitching or would score enough runs to put together a winning team, but things have come together throughout the summer.
“A lot of (the success) has been our hitting coming around and good pitching out of our starters,” Spaeth said. “The strong suit has been our base runner. It’s nothing for us to steal double-digit bases in a game, and that gets us in a good position to score.
“I expected the starting pitching would be below average, but we exceeded that. I thought our hitting would be around average. We are hitting it real well now. The kids responded well. They listen and do what we want them to do.”
Mason Coffren, Tyler Spaeth, Will Voss, Caden Schillinger, and Logan Schreiner have taken over the spots in the starting rotation, and everyone has been contributing on the offensive end, starting with leadoff man Riley Boushack all the way down through the order.
Devyn Palmer and Matt Handrick from Stratford, Ty Pankratz and Caden Schillinger from Spencer, and Ryan Zickert from Pittsville have joined with a strong Marshfield nucleus to give the Blue Devils the depth they need to compete at a high level.
Even though Marshfield is automatically in the state tournament, that is not going to keep the Blue Devils from trying to win this week’s regional.
“The kids all gel and get along,” Tim Spaeth said. “We talked about that (winning the regional) as a team. All the kids are on the same page and want to enter tournament going into it as hot as possible.”
Tickets are $3 at the gate each day, and for those interested in volunteering, check out the Volunteer Information tab on the bottom of the front page at marshfieldlegionbaseball.com.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.