Post 2 gets its summer season off and running

Wednesday, June 26, 2024
After being shut down during the high school baseball season, Post 2 right-hander Trey Dayhoff made his return on the mound against West Terre Haute Post 501 on June 20.
Adler Ingalsbe photo

When Clay County Post 2 manager Nathan Stoelting and assistant coach Andrew Kreiger officially put the roster together for the American Legion season, they began to outline a practice schedule for the month of June.

It wasn’t written in ink and was instead viewed through a tentative lens with the possibility that Clay City and/or Northview could make runs in the state tournament, keeping multiple players with their respective high school teams a little longer.

As fate would have it, the Knights won the Class 3A Edgewood Sectional championship, which meant three key members – Brayden Kreiger, Gavin McMains and Trey Eldridge – of Post 2’s team were unable to join the group until closer to mid-June, leaving them with limited time on the field together before opening up the summer on Monday at Beech Grove.

But despite that, Clay County picked up its first win – a 13-2 drubbing of Beech Grove – in five years.

“We have not had a lot of time to practice. Northview won the sectional this year, and while we were happy for them, that threw us a week behind. We couldn’t get together with the way the IHSAA rules work, so we were a little delayed,” said Stoelting. “But with the number of practices we’ve had so far, I’m thrilled to death with the way they’re playing right now. The boys are doing an excellent job.”

In the first four games of the summer, Clay County is averaging 6.3 runs per game, a mark Stoelting credited to his team’s ability to put the ball in play. And the statistics have backed that up, as Post 2 has only struck out 20 times as a team – eight of which came in the first game after a 26-day layoff for the Clay City players and a 16-day layoff for the Northview players – over the course of the season-opening week.

“We’re putting the ball in play. We did against Danville against some good pitching and put up 13 runs against Beech Grove earlier, so we’re really happy with that,” Stoelting said. “We’ve had some base running mistakes so far. Some of that’s been on the coaches but we’ll stay aggressive on the base paths. That’s a way to score a bunch of runs.”

The pitching has been solid as well.

Clay County has used a multitude of different arms – Trey Eldridge (4), Dailon Keller (3.1), Noah Atkinson (7), Logan Stoelting (2.2), Brayden Kreiger (3), Mason Camp (4), Trey Dayhoff (2) and Brody Shaw (2) – to cover the 29 innings its played, none of which have thrown more than seven innings thus far. That will change as they get ramped back up following the time off after the end of the high school seasons, but for now, Stoelting and Kreiger will continue to keep a close eye on pitch counts.

“We’re very limited right now. Some of the boys, especially the Northview boys, they've got some more endurance because they’ve pitched more recently. Kreiger was stretched out this [spring] and he threw a complete game against Indian Creek at the end of the year, but our boys at Clay City, they’re not nearly as stretched out. So, we’re monitoring their pitches right now,” said Stoelting. “We’re going to keep track of pitch counts pretty hard.”

Through four games, Clay County owns a 2-2 record, which included splitting a doubleheader on Thursday in a pair of one-run affairs against visiting West Terre Haute Post 501.

Is that where Stoelting was hoping to be at this point? Not quite, although he acknowledged that the summer season is going to be used for building fundamentals and continuing to develop winning habits. If those come together, they’ll likely lead to more handshakes and high-fives at the end of games, but as the first-year manager noted, not all success can be linked to a win-loss record.

“I always like to win. That’s who I am. People that know me, if I tell you otherwise, they’re going to call me a liar, and they’d be right,” said Stoelting. “With that being said, I’m trying to remind myself that there’s a lot more important things than winning, even at the end of this season. We have some things we need to work on, and that’s what this is all about. If we can get more reps this summer and see some quality pitching, which we have so far, and get a little bit smarter on the bases and in the field, we’re going to be successful no matter what our win-loss record looks like.”

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