CHEYENNE – Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 thought it was going to have a couple veteran catchers on its roster this summer.
However, the coaching staff determined early in the off-season that junior Andrew Johnson was too valuable as a center fielder to stick behind the plate. Once practice resumed, college returner Max Pedroza decided not to play this season.
Catcher could have been a weakness, but it has been a strength thus far.
Junior Ty Lobmeyer, sophomore Kaden Anderson and freshman Keagan Bartlett have formed a solid three-man rotation for the Sixers.
“They’ve really grown together as a unit, and it’s been fun to watch,” Cheyenne manager Ty Lain said. “All three guys are getting time. They’re all ultra-competitive and hard-nosed. Those are the things we look for in a catcher.”
The 16-year-old Anderson has seen the most playing time, and is batting .356 (16 for 45) with nine RBIs in 18 games. He feels like he has become a leader for the Sixers. Not through the way he has played, but because the position requires it. Catchers need to be vocal, make sure their teammates know what’s happening in specific scenarios.
“I wasn’t that confident last year, but I have a lot more confidence,” Anderson said. “I feel like that team needs me to be a leader and do my job.”
Anderson had a confidence-boosting performance when he went 4 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs during Cheyenne’s 8-2 win June 13 at reigning American Legion national champion Idaho Falls, Idaho. Anderson downplayed his stellar performance, calling it a strong team effort.
Lain most likes Anderson’s resilience.
“He has made some young mistakes back there, but he is so tough and competitive that he turns them into learning experiences,” the skipper said. “It’s been good to have a guy like that back there.”
Lobmeyer has batted .429 (6 for 14) with four RBIs in 11 games. The 17-year-old expected to pitch and play in the middle of the infield this season. He had catching in his background, and jumped at the opportunity to get more playing time.
“I stepped in there and started working on it, and it’s been going OK,” Lobmeyer said. “It took me a few days to get used to it again, but it felt normal pretty quickly.
“I need to get better at blocking pitches and sticking my thumb under the ball and just sticking pitches when I catch them.”
Added Lain: “We had an idea he had that in his background, so we decided catcher was the way to get him more at-bats this season. He’s been stellar.”
Bartlett, 15, has been splitting time between Cheyenne’s varsity and junior varsity rosters in an effort to get more at-bats. Bartlett has hit .219 (5 for 32) with a double, a triple and two RBIs in 14 games.
Bartlett is only in his third season as a catcher, Lain said.
“He is probably the most raw defensively out of the three, but he is coming along the more and more innings he gets,” Lain said. “He is just as talented as anyone on our roster, but he is still learning the ins and outs of being a catcher.
“When all is said and done, we think he is going to be a good one.”
Cheyenne 11 Colorado 1
Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 pounded out more than a dozen hits during an 11-1 victory over the Colorado Bandits on Friday at Powers Field.
Five of Cheyenne’s 13 hits went for extra bases, including a solo home run by Bradley Feezer to open the scoring. Feezer later hit an RBI double to bump the Sixers ahead 3-0 in the third.
Andrew Johnson added a two-run triple to center field in the fifth inning to make it 10-1 Cheyenne. Johnson was 1 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Feezer, Dominic Lopez and Ty Lobmeyer each went 2 for 4. Lobmeyer drove in three, while Lopez and Feezer drove in a pair.
Trenton Rodriguez picked up the win on the mound, working five innings, allowed one run off two hits, striking out two and walking one.
Cheyenne 11, Colorado 1
Colorado 000 01 – 1 2 2
Cheyenne 021 44 – 11 13 0
Colorado pitching: Nunez and Delgado. Cheyenne pitching: Rodriguez and Lobmeyer.
W: Rodriguez (5-0). L: Nunez.
2B: Colorado 1 (Delgado), Cheyenne 2 (Feezer, Romero).
3B: Colorado 1 (Ives), Cheyenne 2 (Johnson, Vite).
HR: Cheyenne 1 (Feezer)