MARINETTE — It’s been quite a run for the Marinette American Legion baseball team the past three seasons.

Coming off two straight state tournament appearances, including a victory in their first state tournament game last year hosted at Pederson Ball Park, Post 39 brings in nine new players while returning just five. Head skipper Brian Lesandrini doesn’t seem fazed with his inexperienced club.

“We’ve got five returning players and nine new to varsity, but nearly an entire group that has played legion baseball over the past few years,” Lesandrini said. “We have some good leadership. I’m excited to see what the guys can do.”

Post 39 will play a doubleheader at home today against Appleton and then travel to Plover for a twin bill on Sunday. Today’s first game starts at 11 a.m.

Two of the leaders that return for Marinette are fourth-year varsity pitcher Trey Bretl and Trevor Bloch, who is the lone player returning a year after high school.

Bretl has been a consistent bulldog on the mound and is coming off a stellar senior year in which he tossed a no-hit shutout against Oconto Falls in the regional opener to lead Marinette.

“We can go as far as we want as long as we pull together,” Bretl said. “We have guys that can make plays. We’re a bit younger than in the past and our younger guys will have to focus on keeping their heads in tough situations.”

Bloch returns in center field and will bat leadoff once again for a Post 39 team that finished with the best record of the East Division of the Fox River Valley Legion League last season at 8-2.

“Last year was a great year and I learned from a lot of leaders such as Nick Daye and Matt Osterberg,” Bloch said. “For me now in a leadership role, I just want to help the younger players along. We have a good team with a lot of talent.”

Lesandrini raved about Bloch’s speed and his ability to get on base frequently while tracking everything down in center.

Pitching, like it is every year, will be the point of emphasis for Marinette.

Bretl provides stability as a staff ace who can work deep into games, but the rest of the staff is a bit unproven.

Lesandrini expects the combination of Jaden Werner, Seth Seefeldt, Nolan Lemke, Hunter Woulf and Mason Risner to fill out the rest of the rotation. Each player will also play various positions throughout the field, depending on who is pitching.

Werner was the staff ace at Crivitz the past two years and is coming off a strong season where he led the Wolverines to a No. 1 seed in their regional. Seefeldt was also the top pitcher for a Coleman team that won the M&O Conference and both are expected to be strong contributors at the top of the rotation.

“We have some good pitching,” said Lesandrini. “We’ll need guys to step up against the top competition we’ll be be playing, but I expect good things from them.”

Risner, a senior at Coleman this past season, returns to the varsity squad along with fellow seniors Brandon Eick and Will LaLonde. Eick plays the outfield and first base, LaLonde catches and Risner fills in all over the field and can also do some catching.

Other players include: Joe Bezio and Chas Ferm in the outfield, Nick Teteak at first base and Braeden McMahon at catcher along with both corner infield positions. 

Once again, Post 39 has an array of some of the best players throughout Marinette County.

Bretl, LaLonde, McMahon, Bezio and Ferm are from Marinette; Seefeldt, Teteak, Woulf and Risner come from Coleman; Werner is from Crivitz and Bloch, Eick and Lemke played for Peshtigo.

With 14 players at his disposal, Lesandrini doesn’t expect to run the same lineup out on the field too often, given his players ability to move around.

“We’ve got four games this weekend and I expect to have four different lineups,” said Lesandrini. “It’s hard to really see expectations with how young we are, but I think it’ll be a good thing to be under the radar a bit this season.”

Assisting Lesandrini will be Shawn and Jake McMahon. John Nerat is the junior varsity head coach and is assisted by Neal Henrigillis. 

“This group has a chance to make a name for themselves,” Lesandrini said. “There’s a lot of talent here, we’re just going to need to gain experience.”