It's a sure sign of summer.
The Loggers held their first practice of the season Sunday morning. It was basically a meet-and-greet mixed with some batting practice.
With the season opener on Tuesday, there were only seven players in attendance (five position players, two pitchers). The team will have nine by Tuesday and more players will trickle in over the next few weeks as their college seasons wrap up. But in the meantime, second-year manager Jason Nell has to do his best to put together a team.
"Hopefully other people got it worse than us. That's what I'm banking on right now," Nell joked.
"It's pick your poison. If we do our job, you're going to run into problems like that because the programs and the teams and the kids we have are good and when they're good, they're going to be in [NCAA] Regionals or Super Regionals or World Series. So you have to take it with a grain of salt, but we try to map things out with temporaries and trying to fill holes. I told [Loggers General Manager Chris Goodell], I said as long as we don't have a pitcher playing a position, I'm totally fine with that."
Two of those players on temporary contracts are UW-La Crosse Eagles: outfielder Taylor Kohlwey and pitcher Ben Cejka. It's been a whirlwind few weeks for the two Holmen grads. They went from playing in the WIAC Tournament Championship game, to playing in the NCAA Tournament, to being honored nationally. Cejka was named a third-team all-American, while Kohlwey was named a first-team all-American.
"When he was first team, I just saw it coming because I knew he deserved it," Cejka said. "Watching him play everyday is just unbelievable and to think I've grown up with that kid for pretty much all my life and seeing him become a first team all-American is really special."
"I don't like to talk about it," Kohlwey acknowledged. "I don't like to brag or anything. My parents get mad at me because I don't tell them anything. They always have to find out from someone else."
Cejka and Kohlwey are on temporary 10-30 day contracts, but they will get plenty of opportunities early in the season to try to get those extended.
"We're getting two quality kids from a great, great program from great coaching so they'll fit right in," said Nell. "I'm really excited for them. Again, they're two local kids and what a better story."
The Loggers open the season at home on Tuesday at 7:05 against the Wisconsin Woodchucks.