PENDLETON - The Hodgen Distributing American Legion baseball team won't open play until today when it appears in its own tournament, but don't expect fellow coaches to be feeling too sorry for coach Tim Cary and the squad.

With the roster consisting of virtually the entire Intermountain Conference champion Pendleton Buckaroos, the team will prove difficult to beat.

"We feel we have a pretty good mix of talent," Cary said. "Every kid in the program played on a spring team. A good majority were on the varsity team."

John Grote, Chris Sabin and C.J. Severin should see plenty of action on the mound, as will Greg Beamer, when he returns from an injury around the beginning of July. Dusty Alberts and Adam Whalen should also see some action on the hill.

The infield sets up pretty nicely for Cary with Grote at first base when he isn't on the mound, Kyle Waterland should see the bulk of the time at second base, Brian Nooy will patrol the shortstop area and Steve Sunman, J.D. Houle and Jimmy Steelman will play third.

Josh McKinstry and Joel Gilliland are also in the infield mix.

"The infield should be fairly solid for us," Cary said.

Drew Van Cleave and Grant Dunham will anchor the catcher position.

Cary said none of the outfield positions were set in stone with plenty of people seeing action.

Tyler Merrill, Beamer, Alberts, Jake Critchlow, Gilliland, Nathan Oliver and C.J. Cambier are all expected to see some action during the team's 40-game season.

Cary will have plenty of bats to choose from each game, an enviable position to be in.

"I think hitting should be our strength," he said. "I'd like to see us score as many runs as we did in the spring."

The team has a solid mixture of younger players to go with some players that have graduated and will be playing in college come spring. The biggest problem for Cary will be trying to find playing time for all of his players, although with 40 games, he said everybody will get a number of at-bats and some good experience.

"The primary purpose of Legion ball is to get our underclassmen some playing time," he said. "We want to honor our seniors, but they understand they will sit some games."

Cary said he views the Legion season as almost an extension of the high school season with one or two minor differences, particularly in the rules, where it's a little more difficult to get players in and out of the game.

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