Despite an 11-23 regular-season record, Marietta-Belpre Post 64/495 manager Phil Logue is not bothered by his team's win-loss mark in its initial American Legion baseball campaign.
Instead, Logue is pleased with the way his team has played the last two to three weeks. After starting the season 3-17, Marietta-Belpre went 8-6 to finish up.
''So you look at the last 15 games,'' said Logue, ''we were better than a .500 ball club, which is pretty dang good for what competition we were playing at the end of the season.''
Why the turnaround? ''The kids kept getting better, and our defense in particular got a lot better - that was the plus,'' said Logue. ''Our pitching has been pretty consistent all the way through, but our offense is not as good as it was at the beginning of the season.
''We can't ask for better pitching than what we've got, but we need to hit the ball better. We need to be more patient at the plate, wait for our pitch and then drive it somewhere hard.''
But Logue knows ''everything is pre-season until districts. What matters starts Sunday,'' and that's the five-team, double-elimination district tournament at Zanesville High School.
Logue's team got a tough district draw in host Zanesville in the first round at 1 p.m. Sunday. ''They're probably the favorite going into the district,'' said Logue. The other three teams are Beverly-Lowell, Cambridge and St. Clairsville.
Marietta-Belpre has met Zanesville once so far this season, dropping an 8-5 decision in Marietta.
''But I like our odds; I think we're peaking at the right time,'' said Logue.
Marietta-Belpre's probable starting lineup Sunday: 1) Jeremy Murphy, LF; 2) John Logue, RF; 3) Tyler Watkins, 2B or P; 4) Markie Tate, SS, P, 2B, or C; 5) Jared Azar, 1B or 3B; 6) Ashton Packard, P, SS or 3B; 7) Zach Heath, 3B or P; 8) Joshua Clark, C, ''who's done an outstanding job behind the plate for us,'' said Logue; 9) Heath Nicholas, CF, ''who's as tough as nails; he would do anything for the team,'' said Logue.
Others, ''all who will see some playing time,'' said Logue, are Corey Law, 2B, pinch-run, possibly pinch-hit; Derek Knost, OF, PR, PH, ''who's a very good pinch-hitter,'' said Logue; Ty Giffin, 1B, P, ''who as a pitcher, tends to keep people off-balance and he's been hitting the ball pretty decently,'' said Logue; Drew Nestor, P, OF, 1B; and Jacob Beaver, P, ''who's kind of like our glue - he keeps everybody loose; he's one of those guys you love to have in the dugout,'' said Logue.
''Pitching won't be my concern Sunday - it will be defense and hitting,'' said Logue. ''We've got to play good defense and hit the ball hard.''
Logue sees Zanesville as ''the prohibitive favorite. They're the defending district champs - somebody's going to have to knock them off. And I'd like to start it the right way - put 'em in the losers' column,'' although Logue realizes ''it would be a tough job for us to do that, especially being the new kid on the block.
''But our kids have seen a lot this summer, and now 35 games in, I think they're ready.''
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at email@example.com