Junior Ospreys showing growth in year two
Just as a healthy farm system is the key to producing a winner in Major League Baseball, building a junior team in Legion baseball helps establish a program at the senior level.
That’s what the Beaufort Ospreys are looking to accomplish in the second year since the organization American Legion team was restarted last summer.
Senior coach Dean Adkins noted that he likes what he’s seeing.
“There are a lot more younger kids out than in years past with the junior team. If that keeps up, we’ll get the numbers back up to where they need to be so we can be competitive,” he said.
Beaufort High junior varsity baseball coach Steven Vega will lead the junior Ospreys on the field this season after working as an assistant last year.
Just like the seniors, the juniors (ages 13-17) are essentially a year older and more experienced this summer.
“Last year, we were relatively young in our first year back with American Legion being gone for a couple years. When we tried to re-establish it, our turnout wasn’t as high as we would have hoped. As a result, our team was very young,” Vega said.
“We were very small because other teams were stacked with 16- and 17-year-olds, whereas our guys were 13, 14 and 15.”
Now in year two, Vega sees his team ready to compete.
“This year, myself and some other coaches were able to recruit a little bit more and with the guys we have coming back, we have a much more mature and older junior team, which I think will make us more competitive against other posts,” he said.
Vega was able to field mostly underclassmen from four area schools: Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and John Paul ll. He even recruited a middle schooler from Lady’s Island.
The Beaufort native believes that the earlier players get started with Post 9, the better for the program. Winning at the junior level is important, but Vega admits it’s not the Ospreys’ top priority.
“Obviously a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old is a big difference, but having younger guys on the team allows us to kind of develop and eventually contribute greatly to the senior team. The end goal is to build a successful team at the senior level,” Vega said.
The junior Ospreys’ first game is at home Monday against Thunder.