Woodbridge Post 364 won't take the 16th District American Legion baseball season one game at a time. That's too much.
"We've just got to take it one base at a time," Post 364 Manager Gene Mulholland said. "We'll be competitive, but we're not deep."
Deep or not, Woodbridge is off to a 4-0 start, well ahead of the Smoketown Sluggers (1-2), Dumfries Post 28 (0-1) and the Euclid Diamond Dawgs (0-4) in Division B of the 16-team 16th District.
Most of the teams are trying to get by with young talent. How young? Dumfries Post 28 Coach Pat Tierno said transportation is a concern for his team because so many of his players aren't old enough to drive.
Woodbridge is youthful, too, but in addition it has Campbell University-bound left-hander Matt Kleweno and All-Met infielder Matt Crater from St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, a private school in Alexandria. Outfielder Donnie Anderson was a first-team all-Cardinal District pick, and three other Post 364 players made honorable mention all-district.
One Woodbridge High athlete not involved with the team is pitcher Alan Day, who is playing with the Fairfax County Eagles, an elite travel squad made up of some of the top talent in the area.
The most experienced player for Smoketown, league runner-up last season to Spotsylvania Post 320, is Gar-Field senior Nate VanHook, a first-team all-Cardinal pick who will try to lead a team composed mostly of high school freshmen and sophomores, including a host of promising pitchers. First/third baseman Alan Oleartchick is another experienced Slugger.
"These kids are pretty good ballplayers who are going to experience a lot of good things after they get through the beginning of the season," Smoketown Manager Jerry Klancer said.
Dumfries Post 28 welcomes several starters from the Potomac High School team that reached the Virginia AAA state quarterfinals, including the outfield of Derrick Dent, Phil Arellano and Tony Blackwell, as well as second baseman P.J. Tierno and third baseman Mike Fravel.
The big guns are absent, however. Danny Lopaze and Jose Pabon aren't playing Legion ball, and Steve Gonzalez is with the Eagles. And infielder Derek Daskalakes is taking the summer off. First-team all-Cardinal left-hander Chris Garris anchors the pitching staff.
"The Jose and Danny era is over," said Pat Tierno, running the team while Manager Stew Rankin recovers from heart surgery last week. "We can't rely on them. We have to find our own way to score runs."
Dumfries also needs a reliable catcher. The team gave up several runs on passed balls in its season opener, an 11-10 loss to Warrenton Post 72.
The Euclid Diamond Dawgs, most of whom are Osbourn Park players, have two 1998 high school graduates on their team: Earl Smith and Richard Dombrowsky. Pitcher Jeff Dagenhart and outfielder Jason Dever were honorable mention all-Cardinal picks. Diamond Dawg Karl Brimmer was a second-team all-Bull Run District selection at Brentsville.
"We don't have the juniors and seniors," Manager Dick Dombrowsky said. "We've got the sophomores, and freshmen in college."
One of those college freshmen -- Adam Byer -- is the Diamond Dawgs' pitching coach.
"He beat Duke, so he knows what he's doing," said Dombrowsky, referring to the Mount St. Mary's hurler's five innings of five-hit ball in a win over the Blue Devils, his first collegiate victory.
Manassas Post 114, off to a 1-4 start with the one win coming by forfeit, plays in Division C with Loudoun Post 34, Warrenton Post 72 and Sterling Post 150.
Post 114 fields one of the younger teams in the 16th District, with four juniors and the rest freshmen and sophomores. One of its top players is first-team all-Cardinal first baseman Jeff Herzig of Osbourn. Honorable mention pick Matt Graham from Stonewall will play shortstop.
"The main thing we're trying to do is improve their baseball skills for next [high school] season," Post 114 Manager Larry Crowder said.
Stafford Post 290, off to a 3-2 start, boasts four first-team all-Commonwealth District choices -- pitcher Jonathan Cribbs, first baseman J.R. Royston and outfielder Jeff Swidrak, all from Stafford High, and North Stafford second baseman Gabe Hippeard -- and four more second-teamers.
Post 290, managed by Mike Elliott, plays in Division A with Fredericksburg Post 55, Spotsylvania Post 320 and Culpeper Post 330.
The Division D teams are Winchester Post 21, Strasburg Post 77, Purcellville Post 293 and Woodstock Post 199.