Photo by Aimee Herbert Alex Cooper will be back on the mound for the Hamburg American Legion team after missing much of last season with an arm injury.

The Hamburg American Legion baseball team is hoping to build on the success the team has had the past two seasons in the Schuylkill-Berks League. They are coming off a winning season and although they will miss the seven players who wont be back this year, they do have a lot of talent coming back.

This group is a nice mix of experienced players as well as some newcomers who have been part of the Jr. Legion program, said Head Coach Brad Biehl. The strength of this team will be pitching and defense. We have a solid rotation of 4-5 starters who have pitched at the legion level.

The question will be if the Reds will be able to score enough runs. They may have to manufacture runs any way they can. That means bunting, stealing, hit and runs and anything they need to do to cross the plate.

The pitching staff is solid and is led by three-year player Jared Degler, the ace of the staff. When hes not on the mound he will be in the outfield. He was 6-1 on the high school season this year for Hamburg with an ERA of 1.44. In 56 1/3 innings, he allowed just nine earned runs and struckout 59 batters.

Alex Cooper will be expected to contribute on the mound as well, but its hard to predict how he will do this summer. He didnt pitch much last year due to an arm injury. But he has a good arm and if he stays healthy Biehl is expecting a lot from him.

Willie Sandman will led the defemnse at his shortstop position and lead the offense as well. He is coming off a high school season in which he his .300 with an on base percentage of .476. He also stole 14 bases. Hes a solid shortstop and will pitch if needed.

Danny Ruppert is a three-year player who will provide vertasility for Coach Biehl. He can play numerous positions and is a solid contact hitter as well.

Matt Bennsinger will be back for his second season for the Reds at first base. He can provide some much-needed pop in the middle of the order.

Our pitching will need to keep us in games until the offense comes around and guys adjust to the grind of a legion season where you might end up playing 4-6 times a week, said Biehl. If everything comes together at the right time, I would like to say that we would have an extended playoff run.

The Hawks got their season underway last week, suffering a 6-3 loss to a powerful Muhlenberg team. The As jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and scored two more in the third. Despite a three-run third, the Reds were unable to come all the way back.