The Columbus (Watterson) American Legion Post 82 baseball team finished 35-10 overall and advanced to the state tournament for the second consecutive year last season.

The Columbus (Watterson) American Legion Post 82 baseball team finished 35-10 overall and advanced to the state tournament for the second consecutive year last season.

Post 82 went 5-0 in the District 12 tournament, beating Worthington Post 239 7-4 in the final, before going 0-2 at the state tournament.

But after the Watterson High School baseball team went 14-12-1 overall in the spring and only one graduate from that team decided to play for Post 82 this summer, senior catcher Kevin Obarski said his Legion team has had to alter its goals.

"We're a very young team with hardly any varsity experience, so this is going to be a building year for us," he said. "We'd like to win our district and go back to the state tournament, but that would be quite a reach with the young team that we have. So our biggest goal is to have a winning season and be competitive. Most of the kids on our team are trying to get better, and we're all trying to get to know each other so we can be a good team again next spring."

Only four of 18 players have returned, including 2007 graduate Austin Fester (P), 2008 graduate Jason Beck (C) and seniors Chris Byorth (P/CF) and Obarski (C).

The rest of the roster includes seniors Lucas Crawford (3B), Jim Dalin (P/SS), Nick Driski (LF/2B), Craig Freeman (P/1B), Adam Grear (1B), Greg Hock (P/SS), Danny Kernan (LF), Matt Krajcovic (P), Matt Miller (3B), Alex Nutter (2B), Eric Robinson (C), Paul Robinson (P) and Jim Smolik (RF) and juniors Brian Bruening (1B) and Connor Cattabiani (2B).

"This team consists of guys who played junior varsity or were on varsity just to pitch, so this is the most inexperienced team we've ever had," fourth-year coach Nippy Prease said. "We're giving everyone a chance to play so we can make good evaluations for next spring's varsity team. We're doing a lot of teaching to try to raise everyone's baseball IQ."

Post 82 was 2-8 overall and 1-2 in District 12 heading into games last Monday against Don Gentile Post 532R, last Tuesday against Jonathan Alder Post 614J and last Wednesday against Don Gentile (Westland) Post 532G.

Post 82 beat Northwest Post 443 2-1 on June 17 and Steubenville Post 33 3-2 in 10 innings last Saturday for its two wins. Obarski drove in Nutter for the winning run against Post 443, and Byorth singled in Crawford with the winning run against Post 33.

Post 82 will play host today to Dublin (Coffman) Post 800C and will play Friday at Hilliard (Davidson) Post 614A and Saturday in a doubleheader at Dublin (Jerome) Post 800J. Post 82 will play host to Whitehall Post 98 on Sunday and Worthington Post 239 on Wednesday.

"We don't have the experience or pitching that we've had in the past, so we're just trying to develop the players we have," Prease said. "We want to improve to the point where we can compete by the start of the district tournament, and hopefully that will carry over into next spring."