Milford won’t field Senior Legion team
And then there were just two.
It seems these days, the biggest state American Senior Legion baseball stories are who is not fielding a team rather than who is. And this year is no exception as the number of local Senior teams keeps shrinking. Only Merrimack Post 98 and Nashua Post 124 have survived. They had been schedule to face off in the opener but that one was postponed due to rain and will be made up later.
The latest casualty is Milford Post 23, which barely had enough players to finish the Senior season a year ago, missing the tournament after being a dominant regular season team in 2016.
“I’m very disappointed,” Milford manager Harold Webster said. “I went to 17 baseball games during the spring and talked to kids, parents, and I thought we were all set. We had a bad year last year and I guess the kids just didn’t want to come out.”
For the second straight year, Hudson Post 48 won’t have a Senior team, either, but both Milford and Hudson will have a Junior Legion team, which is for the younger age group (comparable to JV-freshman high school ball). The hope is those younger programs keep the hope for the eventual return of both to the Senior program.
“Hudson’s doing the right thing, they’re building a team up,” Merrimack Post 98 manager Mike Henzley said. “I think they’ll be back next year with a competitive team.”
“It’s really, really hard to see,” Nashua field manager Tim Lunn said. “The ripples go as far north as Plymouth, which won’t have a team this year
As for Milford, Webster knew the second day of tryouts that his Senior program was in trouble. About 18 players showed up, “but only four who should have been on a Senior team. It’s a different world. It’s too bad.”
It’s definitely a somewhat different world for Senior Legion this year as it will no longer be a nine-inning game, but now seven innings. Plus there will be re-entry, as it is in high school. There’s pros and cons to the shortening of games, according to Nashua manager Tim Lunn.
“I liked the nine inning games, it was fun,” Lunn said.
“As a team last year, we had a lot of comebacks in the late innings. But for pitching, it’s easier on our kids. Plus it’s better for scheduling. A lot of teams are playing doubleheaders to avoid playing on the weekends if you can get them in during the week.”
“I was all for it,” Henzley said of the move to seven innings, “until I realized I’d be deep with pitching this year.”
On the weekends, a lot of Legion players play AAU baseball.
But the Senior program statewide suffered a black eye a year ago when Exeter had to forfeit its first state tournament game due to a lack of players. Exeter is back this season.
The Senior state tournament was originally penciled in at Holman Stadium but there was a mix-up in the dates. Thus the tourney is now at Manchester’s Gill Stadium for the second straight year, not considered ideal because of the artificial turf and manufactured mound.
NH Senior Legion
These are the teams competing in both districts this summer:
District B – Nashua, Merrimack, Dover, Portsmouth, Derry, Exeter, Londonderry, Rochester, Salem.
District A – Concord, Jutras (Manchester), Keene, Laconia, Sweeney (Manchester), Lebanon, Weare.