GREAT FALLS — It’s been a different kind summer for American Legion Baseball in Great Falls with just one team in the whole city and its roster stocked with mainly young players.
But that doesn’t mean the Chargers are inexperienced.
Three players on the team — Cal Cromwell, Brayden Welty and Braden Hirst — all made the decision to come back to the program after a year of college.
Cromwell and Welty spent last year playing ball at Williston State in North Dakota. Playing at that level has given them new perspective to offer this team.
“Just teaching these young ballplayers what I’ve learned,” Cromwell said. “Hopefully bringing that into their future.”
“They’re really taking the information that we’ve brought back to them and they’ve really showed it out on the field that they can be real coachable,” added Welty.
Chargers manager Tony Forster says Cromwell and Welty each offer a lot by coming back, despite Welty possibly being done for the year after an injury a few weeks ago.
“They’ve just been around a lot of baseball, a lot more baseball than some of the younger kids, and they know what to expect in the program and kind of how to conduct themselves a little bit,” Forster said.
That’s not to say the young guys have needed a lot of extra coaching. Forster says they’ve been ready to put in work from Day 1.
That effort also caught the eye of Hirst, who’s back on the team after a year at Montana State. He’s especially impressed with the squad’s pitchers and catchers.
“They are doing very well,” Hirst said. “It’s nice to be able to help them out a little bit and give them a little bit of tips and pointers, since they’re going to be the starting catchers next year.”
Hirst didn’t play any baseball during his time in Bozeman. He says he missed the game so much, he came back to the Chargers and next year, he’ll head to Dakota College in Bottineau, North Dakota, with teammates Derick Spring and Josh Lowery.
This trio knows they will have plenty of baseball to play in the future, but right now, there’s a task right in front of them: getting on roll in time for state.
“Oh yeah, I feel like something is going to spark,” Cromwell said. “I think we’re going to go on a roll here pretty soon.”
The Chargers are tied with Medicine Hat for the eighth and final state tournament spot in the Class AA standings, and those two teams will face off twice this weekend with the first game set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Don Olson Field.