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Legion

The David City American Legion baseball team heads back to the dugout on May 30 after defeating Albion in a home game. David City is looking for its third straight state championship this season.

David City has what might rightly be called a dynasty in Class C American Legion baseball.

The senior team is coming off its second straight state championship and is returning several key pieces focused on making it a three-peat. The juniors and seniors were both champions in 2017 - the first Legion title for David City since 1951.

Head coach Steve Rerucha is back in the dugout after Matt Croghan took the reins a year ago. Rerucha was the head coach during the double state title run in 2017.

Rerucha says there's a little bit of a different feeling headed into this season.

"I think that mainly the kids know it's a long season," he said. "It takes a lot of really good effort. They're a group that comes to every practice and they all work really hard and they have fun. It's a group of guys that gets along really well together."

Despite two consecutive state titles Rerucha isn't getting ahead of himself. After 20 years at the helm, now back for 21, he knows success is a marathon, not a sprint. 

"We don't even know what district we're going to be in until they announce four or five days before," he said. "So, you don't really know what area you're going to go to or what teams you're going to play. Really, you're just trying to improve on what they already know and what they already do and play good fundamentals."

Rerucha said, from his experience, it seems that a lot of success depends on what draw a team gets for the area and state tournaments.

"We don't criticize," Rerucha said. "We just try to improve. We hope to have a good season, but it seems like the stars have to align just right to get through your area. You run into some good teams and then at state you obviously run into some good teams. You take one game at a time." 

The seniors did lose some key pieces from last year's squad. Regardless, Rerucha said the current squad had success as juniors and will be ready to fill in and leave their own legacy.

"Tyler Vavrina, Matt Nadchral and Nathan Uhrmacher are all too old this year," Rerucha said. "There was some good experience that left, but this group of boys won a state championship when they were juniors. They know what it takes. They're usually not too intimidated by too many things.

"They've played a lot of different teams over the years through districts and state. They're well-versed, and they come to every game ready to play and they're very coachable. Those are things that are very good as a coach that you're looking for."

Another key piece of any successful team is a deep pitching squad.

Rerucha said he feels that his team can go as deep as 10 arms between starters and relievers.

"I feel pretty good," Rerucha said. "Dan Stara pitched (on May 30) and he's our normal catcher. He's been throwing in practice and does a really nice job.

"With the pitch count at 105, it seems like you need at least two pitchers every game. When you get into a five-day tournament like district, and if we happen to make it to state, that takes a lot of arms."

Between his senior and junior teams, Rerucha hopes to be able to find the needed arms to make a deep run.

"We're about eight or nine pitchers deep and we got a good group of juniors," he said. "Between those two we have that good eight, nine, 10 guys that I'm not afraid to call on. That's really key because anymore, you can't just have two or three guys.

"You have to have a good group of pitchers that are ready to throw at any time. Some days they're on, some days they aren't. So you have to be ready to look down the list and see how you'll play it out."

Offensively, Rerucha said he believes David City is just as deep as its powerful lineups of the past. With an impressive top of the order and an ever-improving bottom of the lineup, David City hopes to give opposing pitchers headaches.

"We're very strong throughout the order, and the bottom of the lineup is getting better," Rerucha said. "All these guys are very willing to attack the ball. Offense is a big part. We have a lot of team speed, which helps in playing small ball, getting them around the bases and getting them in scoring position. That's really key to this team."

On top of having a deep roster, Rerucha said he feels his team has many other advantages such as their speed.

"Fundamentally they're pretty sound," he said. "We always need to improve on that, but speedwise is something you can't really work on. It's got to be a natural thing from the good Lord. We have a lot of kids that are really blessed in that."

If David City is fortunate enough to make it back to the state tournament it will take place July 27-31 in Syracuse. 

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net

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