Cape Legion adds key newcomers for 2007 season

Friday, June 1, 2007
Recent Central graduate Brad LaBruyere will play for Ford & Sons this summer after playing for traveling teams in the past. (Southeast Missourian file)

The addition of Central baseball standouts Brad LaBruyere and Matt Hester should help make the Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons American Legion team a district contender as the summer season gets under way.

LaBruyere and Hester both recently finished their senior seasons for the Tigers, and are heading to Legion ball after playing on traveling teams in the past. Both players signed with Southeast Missouri State during their senior seasons.

"Having Brad and Matt helps quite a bit," Cape manager Dave Meyr said. "Brad adds a lot pitching and with the bat, and Matt adds a lot in the outfield and he has a good stick."

Among the top returning players for Ford & Sons is fellow Central graduate Blake Slattery, who led the Tigers in nearly every offensive category this past season. Central dominates the squad, with Kory Kitchen, Garrett Stevens, Alex Shell, Nick Allen, Brooks Osburn and Joe Uhls also on the roster.

While the presence of Notre Dame players is limited to one, it is an important piece. Notre Dame ace Mark Himmelberg will play for Ford & Sons this season, giving the team a strong arm behind LaBruyere.

"We expect the rotation to be set up pretty well with Brad and Mark," Meyr said.

Rounding out the roster for Cape is seven Illinois players. Five players are from Anna-Jonesboro, led by returning infielder Zach Plott. There are also two players from Shawnee High School.

"Some of these guys are underclassmen, so we'll have them back next year," Meyr said. "We felt like we've added quite a bit with these players."

Ford & Sons kicked off its season with a blowout win over De Soto. Up next is a weekend tournament in Dyersburg, Tenn.

Cape's first district action will be Wednesday at home against Sikeston. Jackson, Scott County and Dunklin County round out the district.

"We're really looking forward to this year," Meyr said. "I'm sure everyone will be better, but we have a team that can compete well in the district."

Defending champions

Scott County, the defending district champion, will be coached by Denver Stuckey this season. Stuckey takes over for Tom Dirnberger.

Stuckey should have plenty to work with. Scott County will return several key players, including leading hitter Trenton Moses, outfielder Blake Dirnberger, Caleb Daughhetee and Andy Stephens. Moses, who recently graduated from Advance, also signed with Southeast Missouri State during his senior campaign.

Scott County will also benefit from the addition of several Oran players. The Eagles fell in the Class 1 quarterfinals to Valle Catholic after making the final four a year ago. Key players such as Chase Seyer, Caleb Seyer, Tyler Beardslee, Steven Dooley and Chris Asmus will take the field for Scott County.

Jackson returns just three players from last year. While the Cape team benefited from several traveling players coming back, Jackson is without players such as Rex Meyr, Luke Crader and Logan Lawson, who are on traveling teams.

"We lost a lot to those prospect teams," Jackson manager Mark Lewis said.

An infusion of talent from Clearwater High School, a district winner in Class 2, should give Jackson a boost. Jackson has five players from the Piedmont, Mo., school.

"Poplar Bluff was the closest place, and they don't have a team, so we're the next closest," Lewis said. "They've made a commitment to make the drive and it's an exciting chance for them to play.

"You want players to want to play. That's the biggest thing. That's the exciting part of it."

Jackson kicked off its season with a pair of blowout wins over Perryville on Tuesday. The first district game for Jackson will be tonight at Sikeston.

"I'm excited about the club, I really am," Lewis said. "I'm excited about the makeup of it. The first 10 games we'll look to find out what we've got."

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