BENNINGTON — Last year, the Post 13 American Legion baseball team finished the season 9-9 and barely made the postseason tournament.
When they got to Castleton, they played two games and were blown out.
Fast forward 11 months, and Post 13 is a different team with a mix of veterans and young guns looking to make their mark this season.
"I've coached pretty much every one of these kids," said coach Jamie Carey. "I worked with the [MAU] JV kids [during the school season]. They are hard workers, great kids and easy to coach. They are talented, I think they can play at this level."
The Legion baseball season starts Saturday with a doubleheader against Bellows Falls and goes until the state tournament the week of July 23 at Castleton University.
Seven players from a season ago are back, including Pat Powers, Devin Babson, Blake Carey, Brian Grace, Wyatt Whitman and Noah Conety and Brody Farnum.
But some of the newbies are not all that new. Noah Normyle was the top hitter for the Patriots this season, while Jon Iris was the No. 1 ace for the state runner-up in Burr and Burton.
Another BBA player, James Reilly, played on the Bulldogs' varsity this season.
"We have a good mixture of guys, a solid team overall with a lot of guys back," Whitman said. "We have lots of pitching depth, with Devin, Jon Iris, which is handy when we have doubleheaders and get into the dog days [of summer]. I think we can do some damage in the tournament. Overall, we're going to be a good team."
James Marsden comes in with some catching experience with the Patriot varsity, while Carey will be behind the plate as well. Nilu Chirchirillo was a utility player this season for MAU and will play outfield for Post 13.
Most players will have two different positions.
"Any player at this level should be able to adjust to a different position," Carey said.
The other new players include Liam Center, Will Buck, Noah Loomis, Cole Bushee, Damien Hessler, Brady Gerow and Jordan Sullivan.
"I think we can have a good year, we [lost] some guys, but the crew coming in will be a nice mix with the older guys," Powers said. "I think we can do better than last year."
The biggest intangible in the team's depth. The pitching roster is at least five or six deep and there's four or five players that will get time in the outfield.
"We have a lot of depth everywhere, and it's nice to have that luxury," Powers said. "If guys get burnt out or hurt, we can move in guys that are more healthy."
Carey said he has a few new players that could surprise this season.
"Will Buck is going to surprise," Carey said. "He's worked hard at practice, he's hitting the ball, he can really play the game. Noah Looms has great mechanics, he can play infield and pitch. And my son, Blake, he's really matured from last year. I didn't think he was ready last year, but he's doing a great job catching the older guys."
Carey said while he wants to win, that's not the most important thing.
"It's more important to have fun, learn the game of the baseball," Carey said. "I definitely foresee a better record this year and I want to win at least one game in the tournament, anything after that is a bonus."
Whitman, who admitted he was on the fence to play this summer as he will attend Oswego State in the fall, said he was happy he came back.
"It's definitely a good experience, meeting some of the new guys, working with them and seeing what they have to offer," Whitman said. "We pitch against guys we see maybe once or twice during the season and it's nice to play with them."
Schedule: June 18 (DH) at Bellows Falls; June 23 vs. Brattleboro; June 25 at Lakes Region; June 26 (DH) at Brattleboro; June 28 at Rutland; July 2 (DH) vs Rutland; July 3 (DH) vs White River Junction; July 7 vs. Bellows Falls; July 9 (DH) at Randolph; July 16 vs Lakes Region; July 18 at WRJ; July 20 vs Randolph. State tournament, July 23-27.