Coaches are key in Legion ball

The Copper Country Flames American Legion baseball team had a successful weekend at the postseason tournament held last weekend.

The Flames, a mixture of players from all over the Copper Country, were just one win away from qualifying for the state tournament.

And the team gave eventual U.P. champion Gladstone a scare in the semifinals, leading by a 4-0 score early on before falling by a 9-4 count.

Coached by Andy Crouch of Lake Linden and Rob Scholie of Hancock, the team played fundamental baseball for the most part.

Like any sport, youngsters require sound leadership to have success. And Crouch and Scholie are two of the best mentors in our area.

Crouch, of course, has been the football coach at Lake Linden for the past 15 years.

And despite working with small numbers, he has compiled a nice record and led his team into the state playoffs several times.

Scholie has been around the game of baseball for some time, first as a player and then as a coach-manager in the Hancock-Houghton area.

He has a real love of the game as witnessed a few years ago when he went to Houghton and took over the Legion program there.

He learned the game as a player, first from his father, Bob, and then from Arne Henderson with the Hancock Flames.

Henderson took over the Hancock program in the middle 1970s and had great success. At one time, the Flames were divided into two teams.

Henderson concentrated on the fundamentals of the game. And that meant bunting to move over baserunners — seemingly a lost art even in upper levels of the game.

How many times this season have you seen the Detroit Tigers lay down a sacrifice bunt? Not very often.

It’s no secret why all Gladstone area teams (baseball and softball) in recent seasons have had such great success.

It’s because they do all the little things required to play winning baseball. And they’re coached that way from Little League on.

The Flames will lose only one player from this year’s squad.

And if Crouch and Scholie are back to handle the reins, the local team could be right back in the state tourney picture ….