M’s get ready for final stretch run of regular season

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The Mission Valley American Legion baseball team is halfway through the American Legion season, and the young team is still a work in progress.

The young Mariners, an organization that is currently at the bottom half of the conference standings, still has a shot at improving with every team in their conference getting a shot at the tournament.

At the start of the season, the Mariners had a combined 20 players on the A and B teams as they continue to make strides toward the one portion of the season that counts — playoffs.

“We are halfway through the schedule, and we are in a pretty good spot at this juncture of the season,” Mariners coach Tim Rausch said. “At this point in the season, it’s just a matter of figuring out (what team does what) in the second half. Our team is 10 games through the conference, and who excels in the second half will depend on who is going to play well. When it comes to the tournament, and our conference takes everyone, the conference race should be pretty close come tournament time.”

Rausch’s team is down in numbers, but the lack of numbers can work to their advantage, Rausch said.

“I think having a smaller team can be a real positive thing,” Rausch said. “With only having 12 players, it helps our team chemistry. They are pushing for each other to do well, and that made a big difference in how we played this last tournament up in Libby.”

The Mariners continue to struggle with a couple of bad innings, which have separated them from wins and losses, Rausch said.

“We’ve had one or two bad innings which have cost us ball games,” Rausch said. “We have continued to watch videotapes on kids, and work on things with their swing. In the last half of the season, hopefully we can get some key wins that help catapult us up to a higher seed in the standings.”

One area Rausch said he is comfortable with is his team’s pitching depth.

“We have a little more of an idea of who is going to pitch after who, and when they are going to pitch in the rotation,” Rausch said. “Having 12 guys solidifies our rotation that way. More importantly, when you are down to 12 guys, we have a couple of kids that are going to get the job done pitching-wise.”

Being one of the younger teams in the conference, as the M’s move into the last portion of the season.

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