ESCANABA - The idea of being weekend warriors could become old hat for the Escanaba Cubs during this American Legion baseball season.
Esky, which opens Friday in the Green Bay Father's Day tournament, is entered in four weekend tourneys within the next five weeks.
The Cubs face the Green Bay Shockers at 1 p.m. (EDT) before meeting Kaukauna, Wis. at 3:30. They resume Saturday at 1 against Manitowoc, Wis.
"I got a call in February from a friend (Andy Conard), who coaches at Green Bay Southwest and told me they were looking for a 12th team in this weekend's tournament," said Tom Ohman, who has managed the Cubs for at least 30 years. "I told him 'sure, we'll come.' It will be interesting to see different teams. We haven't played the Shockers in years. I don't recall ever playing Kaukauna and we've played Manitowoc in the past. I like to get into these kinds of tournaments. It makes you grow up real quick."
Esky, which then co-hosts the Gregg Johnson Memorial tournament with Gladstone June 22-24, also has regular-season tourneys at Kimberly, Wis. (June 29-July 1) and Sault Ste. Marie (July 13-15) before returning to the Lock City for the U.P. Finals (July 26-28).
"What I like about this schedule is we play just one game in the middle of the week, which I think will help us save on arms," said Ohman.
Leading the list of 19-year-olds is Trent Schwalbach, who will pitch and play the infield after playing at Lakeland College this spring. Joining him are utility player Matt Jensen, outfielder Kyle Berres, infielder Justyn Doucette and newcomer Andrew Kausak (infield and pitching).
"Trent looks stronger and bigger this year, and Andrew is looking pretty good so far," said Ohman. "We have 12 returning from last year, which I think will help us. But our main goal is to get our paperwork done properly, so we can participate in the state tournament.
The Cubs, who were ineligible for the post-season a year ago because of paperwork snafus, also return Alex DeHaan at a variety of positions. DeHaan, who will play at St. Norbert College next year, will pitch, catch and spend time in the infield and outfield for the Cubs.
"We have a lot of versatility on this team and Alex is an excellent example of that," said Ohman. "I know many of these kids just finished their high school season last Saturday, which doesn't give them much of a break. But these kids have been together since March. I think the continuity will also help them."
Also fresh from the high school team, which finished its season in a Division 2 regional opener, are Ian Demarse (infield), Nick Vandermissen, Bailey Lamb and Ben Kleiman (infield-pitcher) and Dave Falish and Austin Young (outfield-pitcher).
Helping with the catching duties are Devin Barton and Dane Messersmith.
"We have 9-10 kids who can pitch and probably 4-5 we can rely on," said Ohman. "Maybe we can find a diamond in the rough. That's how we found out about Austin Young last year, and now he's one of our best pitchers. I think we can be strong on the mound. We're in better shape for pitching than we've been the past couple years. This year, we have more options."
June 15-17 - at Green Bay; June 19 - at Marquette Blue; June 22-24 - Gregg Johnson Memorial tournament; June 27 - Marquette Blue; June 29-30 - At Kimberly, Wis.
July 1 - at Kimberly, Wis.; July 6 - at Gladstone; June 13-15 - at Sault Ste. Marie; July 19 - Gladstone; July 22 - Sault, Mich. (DH); July 24 - at Menominee; July 26-28 - U.P. Finals at Sault Ste. Marie.
Aug. 2-5 - Tier II state tournament at Marquette.