The return of American Legion baseball to Westerville has helped the Westerville Central High School athletes prepare for the spring season.

The return of American Legion baseball to Westerville has helped the Westerville Central High School athletes prepare for the spring season.

Post 171C has struggled, going 3-11 before playing Don Gentile Post 532R (Ready) last Tuesday.

Post 171C will return to action today when they oppose Post 532W (Westland).

"They're learning, and they're understanding the game more and more and more," coach Mike Simmerman said. "They're starting to understand what makes a difference in a game."

Post 171C is preparing for its first District 12 Tournament, which begins July 5.

The Warhawks also will compete in the Buckeye Elite Tournament on July 9-12.

Post 171C entered the week looking to bounce back from a doubleheader loss against Post 171S, a team comprised of Westerville South players. Post 171S cruised to five-inning wins of 12-0 and 21-4 as Post 171C's losing streak reached six.

The team's last win was a 7-3 win against Post 171N (North) in the first game of a doubleheader June 13. Sophomore John Whitaker turned in a complete-game effort for Post 171C, which dropped a 13-12 decision in eight innings in the second game.

Post 171C's other wins have come against Franklin Heights Post 98 13-1 on June 5 and Olentangy Liberty 10-6 on June 6.

Jordan Helmer and Connor Sitz have the other wins on the mound for Post 171C.

Helmer, the team's lone graduated player, has provided leadership. Helmer, who has seen action at third base and in left field, will play at Capital.

Through 12 games, Helmer was batting a team-leading .553 and was tied for the team lead with Jake Simmerman with 10 RBI and a home run.

"This is fun," Helmer said. "It's an experience because it's the first year with the Legion team here. It's a lot better competition than the regular old-school summer ball. I enjoy it."

Ryan Bohan (CF/2B), Connor Turk (C/2B) and Josh Helmer (1B/3B), Jordan's brother, will be seniors in the fall.

Juniors include Derreck Chisholm (RF/C), Chris Gygi (LF/SS), Jerry McCartney (LF/SS), Devin Mills (1B/P), Trevon Parker (2B) and Chris Wineinger (2B) and Jake Simmerman (3B/CF), the coach's son. Sitz (P/1B) and Whitaker (SS/P) are sophomores.

Simmerman was batting .551 through 12 games followed by Josh Helmer (.428), Bohan (.391), Mills (.350), Chisholm (.333) and Turk (.333).

"I like the youth of this team," Jordan Helmer said. "It's fun to be around these guys. They get better every game."

It is the first time American Legion has sponsored teams in Westerville since 1996.

"There's a learning curve because being the first year we're young," coach Simmerman said. "We're probably a year-and-a-half behind some of these teams as far as age. It ends up showing up on the scoreboard at some point. It's tough at times because a lot of these kids have played travel in their own age groups and have had a lot of success. Now they're playing in a wider age group, and they're playing kids maybe 2-and-a-half, 3 years older. We're competing in every game three or four innings deep and then sometimes the experience takes over."