MARQUETTE - Looking to defend its Mid Pen League regular season and playoff titles, the Marquette American Legion Blues baseball team is set to start the 2013 season today.
The Blues are scheduled to entertain the Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) Black Sox in a doubleheader beginning at noon at Haley Memorial Field.
Manager Derek Swajanen said the Blues - coming off a 46-22 record for 2012 - will be younger than in years past.
The Marquette Blues' Trevor Bratonia, shown here in a 2012 file photo, is returning to the team this season. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"We have a little different look this year in that we're going in with a few less veterans than we have had in the past," he said.
"We're every bit as talented, but we have some kids in the lineup who haven't had the game experience we've had in previous years."
The Blues should have some strong leadership in returnees Ryan Hanson, Ryan Walther and Collin O'Neal, Swajanen said.
"They'll be in their last season with us and they'll have no problem stepping up into those types of roles for us," the manager said, adding "we should have strong pitching again, just a little younger arms, but that won't pose a problem."
Besides Hanson, Walther and O'Neal, Luke Swajanen, Trevor Bratonia, Riley Lynch and Levi Underwood could see some innings on the mound.
New to the rotation will be McKinley Larson and Payton LeBombard, who Derek Swajanen said "have really come a long way since we started working out."
Securing the middle infield will be returner Hunter Larson, along with Derek Stone and Sam Leow, the manager said.
"Jerad Tredeau, Colton Wiggins and Ethan Wiese are all new to the roster this year and will help us immensely going forward," Swajanen added.