MENOMINEE — Experience is something the Menominee Legion baseball team will not be lacking heading into this summer’s season.

With five players who graduated high school last year plus a number of other players coming back that have Legion experience, Post 146 coach John Lauzer is excited to get things rolling on the new year.

“We told the older kids that are coming back, ‘you’re 19, you know the system you’re going to be taught’ and they have really stepped up with the younger players and put them under their wings to help them so far,” he said. “(The coaches) get done talking and those older guys explain it even better. We have five really great leaders in those 19-year-olds and they’ve come to practices in the beginning of the year so far ready to go.”

Menominee’s Jason Janquart and Jacob Rivard, Stephenson’s Alex Hanson and Jesus Becerra and Wausaukee’s Matthew Delfosse are the five returning 19-year-olds for the Red Wave.

Janquart and Delfosse give Post 146 a nice 1-2 punch in the starting pitcher rotation and Hanson is right there as the No. 3 on the staff. Janquart mans center field when he isn’t on the mound, Delfosse plays some third base and Hanson is a vacuum over at first base.

Becerra comes back as the No. 1 option at catcher and Rivard plays center when Janquart pitches and anywhere else in the outfield that he’s needed.

“Jason is a true center-fielder. He’s done a lot of pitching for us in the past but we’re going to try to have him in the outfield as much as possible this year,” Lauzer said. “Jesus is really good behind the plate, he’s been there for four years now and he’s very reliable back there. Alex, Matt and Jacob all know where they’re going to be as well. They’ve all been with me for a few years now and they all understand that they have to be the ones to lead the team to wherever we’re going to go this year.”

Other returning players for the Red Wave are Keagan Monroe, who will be the backup catcher, a pitcher and will play anywhere in the field that he is needed; Dante Sartorelli will get some time on the mound and in the outfield; Buddy Beyer is a catcher and a second baseman; Keaton Uecke will do some pitching and play third base; Hunter Goldschmidt is a pitcher and an outfielder; Billy Bailey plays first base and Zach Starzynski will pitch and catch. Brenden Versaskas is a newcomer that will play outfield.

“Keagan is going to be my rover. Last year that was Jason, but he’s going to be mostly center field, but this year that guy is going to be Keagan,” Lauzer said. “He can play anywhere on the field. There’s still a few things we need to figure out, but as of now I like what I’ve been seeing early in the season.”

Pitching depth is always huge in Legion baseball, especially with kids having to worry about pitch counts. Menominee will boast six or seven pitchers early in the season and by the time it ends, that number could be up to eight or nine.

Cole Caylor and Ethan Russell will add two more arms to the Red Wave’s rotation and Andrew Schroeder could also do some pitching when he’s available.

“I don’t have an overpowering staff, but I think we should be between six to eight pitchers deep,” Lauzer said. “Right now we’re good on our depth. Matt, Jason and Alex have all looked great, Cole Caylor from Wausaukee has looked real good and Keaton has also had some good bullpens. Our pitching depth is something I’m very happy with right now. If these guys can give two, three or four good innings, we have people that can come in for relief and hopefully close it out.”

Last year, Menominee was set up to win the state title on its home field before Gladstone came in and stole the show by beating the Red Wave twice in the finals. While getting some revenge on Gladstone is at the top of Post 146’s list, Lauzer always looks forward to the Firecracker Tournament held in Marinette at the end of June to see what position his team is in right around the midway point of the season.

“We always see some really good teams at the Firecracker Tournament and that’s where we take some time to measure where we’re at in the season,” he said. “If we can hang around with those teams, we’re in good shape. If we’re getting blown away, then obviously some things need changing so we can get to the next level. But Gladstone is our rival, and they’re the ones we’re going to be looking forward to meeting most at the end of the season. Hopefully we can get back to the title game and this time it ends in our favor.”

Assisting Lauzer once again is defensive specialist Kyle Durow, supervisor of team morale Chris Janquart and pitching coach Jim Tharp Jr.

“Those three guys really do all of the coaching for me,” Lauzer said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anybody. They all know how to interact with the kids maybe a little more than I do and it really makes for a great atmosphere with them team.”

Menominee’s season kicks off on Saturday when the Red Wave travels to Hancock, Mich., for a doubleheader.