NEW ULM - New Ulm Legion Gold baseball coach Bob Weier said that he did not know what to expect when the season started for his team this year.
"We had basically a new team coming in," he said following a 25-9 season after losing twice in the Minnesota State American Legion Baseball Tournament. "Myself and assistant coach Bryce Boelter had some things in mind of what we wanted to accomplish and things that we wanted to teach the kids."
Weier said it was not a problem trying to bring together players from New Ulm High School, New Ulm Cathedral and Minnesota Valley Lutheran into one team.
"We wanted to progress as a team - come together as a team - and it is probably no different than when you have kids from three or four different grades and you are trying to mold them into a team," Weier said.
Weier does that with a three-year tradition that New Ulm Gold has done.
"One of the important factors is, and this has been the case in the last three years and especially this year is that about a week or two into the season we take off and go to a tournament in Grand Rapids," Weier said. "The players are together a lot for those three days. I feel that that has accelerated the process. They get to know each other and we try and play everybody a lot. That has helped just being together that much - they are forced to learn and know each other."
Weier said the 2013 edition of New Ulm Gold was one of being inexperienced.
"By that I meant that we had eight or nine players who were playing American Legion baseball for the first year. That is kind of like a sophomore or a junior playing varsity baseball for the first time," Weier said. "It is a new experience - you are the next level, the kids are bigger, faster, stronger and smarter. It is a challenge and it is one of our goals as a coaching staff is to make them realize that and make them realize that they can compete if they put forth the effort. They need to have confidence in their coaches that the coaches know what they are doing. And as the season goes on and you are headed in the right direction you gave good results. And if not you will not have good results."
This year, besides the early season tournament in Grand Rapids, Gold played in the Gopher Classic, the Upper Midwest Classic, the Sub-State Tournament and the State Tournament.
Weier feels that of all of the tournaments, the team played its best in the Upper Midwest Classic and carried that over a week later to the Gopher Classic.
"The kids began to understand what we as a coaching staff expected defensively, pitching and especially offensively,"?Weier said. "We were going to use a wide variety of techniques to try and score runs.
"In the Gopher Classic, we did a lot of experimenting with the hit-and-runs and double steals along with suicide bunts to try and find out what each kid can do. That carried on through to the sub-state."
While the team did a lot of things right in July, the state tournament games in August were a complete 180-degree turnaround.
"I was very surprised by our 10 errors in the [state] tournament," Weier said. "We knew that we would need to have good pitching, play good defense and do the things on offense that carried us most of the season. In the season, we could get away with those mistakes but in the state tournament you don't. But hopefully these kids gain that experience and use that experience for next year."
And it will be a "veteran" Gold team back next season.
Gold loses four "seniors" (19-year-olds) for next year in Tim Kehren, Jory Dove, Jordan Guggisberg and Drew Pfaff.
But they will be the only players missing from this year's roster for next year. Combine them with players from a solid VFW Gold team and you have a very good future for the 2014 New Ulm Gold team.
"On paper this will be a very good team coming back." Weier said. "There will be a couple of positions open with some good players both on offense and pitching from VFW Gold."