Owensboro Bombers Post 9 American Legion

Owensboro’s Ethan Gibson executes a pick-off attempt during a game against Owensboro Catholic on May 29 at Shifley Park’s Jack Hicks Field. Gibson will be a key cog for the Owensboro Post 9 American Legion team this summer.

Matt Freeman will direct a seasoned team into battle this summer as manager of the Owensboro Bombers Post 9 American Legion team, which begins its 2021 season on Thursday at the season-opening tournament in Mayfield.

The Bombers will open against Lyon County at 6 p.m. at Graves County High School.

“We’re ready to go,” said Freeman, whose opening-day roster features 17 players. “We have an older, experienced group of players who know how to play the game, and they will pass their knowledge on to our younger players.

“One of the main things we want this team to do is buy in early on our commitment and what we want to accomplish. Team chemistry is always so important, and we want to mesh into a unit where everyone’s on the same page trying to get it done.”

The Bombers feature an infield that includes third baseman Jordan Tolle (Ohio County), shortstops Ethan Gibson (OHS) and Cohl Proctor (Breckinridge County), second basemen Connor Hallmark (OHS), Daylin Crabtree (Brescia) and Hunter Payne (Daviess County), first basemen Owen Payne (Daviess County) and Braxton French (Southern Indiana), along with catchers Garrett Small (Daviess County) and Aiden Wells (Apollo).

Roaming the outfield will be Harrison Bowman (Apollo), Tanner Klee (Apollo), Brock Brubaker (Daviess County) and Matt Jackson (Muhlenberg County).

“From an offensive standpoint, we’ve probably got the best hitting team we’ve had in several years,” Freeman said. “We don’t have an abundance of power, but we have a consistent lineup that will put the ball in play and hit to all fields.

“The middle of our defense, I would match up with any team in the state — we’re just very solid up the middle.”

Owensboro also possesses a bevy of pitching, led by starters Gibson, Proctor and French. Bowman could be used as both a starter and reliever, but there’s plenty of other options, including Jackson, Hallmark, Crabtree, Hunter Payne and Owen Payne.

“We have a lot of depth with our pitching staff, and we plan to use it to our advantage,” Freeman said. “Eleven of our guys were starting pitchers on their respective teams this past season, so we very much like the guys we will be able to put on the mound.”

Freeman said baseball success in the summer has some unique characteristics.

“I think you have to have leadership to be successful in the summer,” Freeman said, “and we have a roster of players who can deliver for us in this important area.

“Everyone on this team will have a unique role, and how well our players play their roles will also go a long way toward determining how much on-field success we have.

“Attitude is everything, and it’s not just about baseball. We’re developing young men of high character who will be leaders in their communities, and that’s where much of the emphasis will be this season and in seasons to come.”

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