After sitting out last summer's season, Jon Koenigsfeld is more than thankful to get an opportunity to play this year for the Licking County Settlers.

After sitting out last summer's season, Jon Koenigsfeld is more than thankful to get an opportunity to play this year for the Licking County Settlers.

"Win or lose, it's definitely great being back out here," he said last Tuesday after an 11-7 loss to the Xenia Scouts at Don Edwards Park. "Summer's made for playing baseball. I really missed it."

Koenigsfeld, who will be a senior at Valdosta (Ga.) State, also is getting a chance to compete in another wooden-bat organization, this time in the 10-team Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.

Two years ago he played in the five-team Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball League, a charter member of the All-American Amateur Baseball Association. The CGL dates to the 1940s and is based in the Washington D.C., area. More than 50 alumni have gone on to play in the major leagues.

The GLSCL, on the other hand, dates to 1986 but already has seen dozens of alumni reach the majors as well.

"There were fewer teams (in the CGL), and the competition was probably not quite as good overall," said Koenigsfeld, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound shortstop. "I enjoyed it and everything, but this league (the GLSCL) definitely has more Division I-type (college) players. The level of play is really high. I know I'm getting worked out pretty hard every night playing in this league."

There are no fewer than a dozen wooden-bat leagues, several of which are like the GLSCL in that they are funded in part by Major League Baseball. The most notable is the 10-team Cape Cod Baseball League, which dates to 1885 and has produced more than 200 major leaguers. Former Newark Catholic High School standout George Biddle spent time in the Mass.-based league. The league will stage its annual all-star game next month in Fenway Park for the first time since 1970. The CCBL has been featured in several books and movies, and one of the most recent projects was the film "Touching The Game," which documented the 2003 season while also providing historical background on the league.

One of the newest and most widespread wooden-bat organizations is the 11-team Prospect League, which began play this summer with Ohio affiliates located in Chillicothe and Lorain. Other teams are based in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

"Cape Cod is where everyone wants to play, obviously," Koenigsfeld said, "But this is a pretty good deal, too."

Koenigsfeld, who was advised to rest a sore wrist last summer, is one of two Settlers from Florida, making them the players who have traveled the furthest to play for Licking County. He's a native of New Port Richey, and infielder Patrick Braswell hails from Jacksonville.

They've found a new home in Newark, at least for the next few weeks.

"I'm really enjoying it," Koenigsfeld said. "Me and Brian Kordal are staying with the same host family, and they're treating us great. We're spending a lot of time working out at the YMCA and just hanging out until game time. I can definitely see why some guys wanted to come back and play here."

SEASON UPDATE -- The Settlers were 5-3 before playing a doubleheader last Saturday at the Lima Locos.

Today's doubleheader is at the Grand Lake Mariners with single home games to follow Thursday against the Stark County Terriers and Friday against Xenia.

Ohio State's Eric Best struck out five and pushed his record to 2-0 as the Settlers defeated host Stark County 7-1 last Wednesday, but coach Kyle Sobecki said he's still waiting for one or two players to step forward and become leaders.

"I think we're a quiet group no matter what, but we've been together now for a couple of weeks and tonight nobody was talking out there," he said after the Settlers squandered a 5-3 lead last Tuesday against Xenia. "I'm not very happy about this one, especially our defensive effort. We need to use it as a wake-up call."

Catcher John Turk, a second-year Settler, agreed.

"I guess me and guys like John McCambridge, guys who played here last year, need to be a little more vocal and take charge."

BY THE NUMBERS -- Entering last Saturday, Aaron Roberts (.370), Kyle McMillen (.348), Turk (.333) and McCambridge (.308) were the top individual hitters for the Settlers, who finished fourth in the league with a .278 average a year ago.

Perhaps the biggest improvement so far has been on the mound. Licking County's staff ERA was 4.31 a year ago but was 3.49 before last Saturday. Ohio Dominican's Jonathan Kountis went 1-1 and didn't allow an earned run in his first two starts covering 9 2/3 innings.