Legion baseball returns to Elwood as the Bulls

ELWOOD – An idea sparked inquiry. Then, inquiry stoked an ember somewhere under the brush for athletes in Eustis, Elwood and Arapahoe for the return of America’s pastime to the area. Elwood-Eustis has a Legion baseball team, once again.

Toward the end of 2018, Keith Henggeler got in touch with the American Legion to start the process of bringing Legion ball back to Elwood. Henggeler created a Facebook page to gauge public interest. Within two hours the page had spread like wildfire among the Eustis and Elwood population and 15 athletes, along with their parents, had committed to make it happen.

Many names on the roster will be familiar to both Eustis and Elwood sports enthusiasts as Eustis had three commits and Elwood provided 11 players. In addition, one player from Arapahoe is the first to join the team from his community.

With a roster of athletes, Henggeler needed staff. Luckily, he had some help in mind.

Ben Martin, a Columbia, Mo. native, played for Rock Bridge High School. He continued his baseball career playing for Allen County Community College in Iola, Kan., for a year before transferring to Fort Hays State University to play three years as a Tiger. After college ball, Martin worked with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals as a scout for four years.

Katy, Texas native Charley Corkern played four years of high school ball before playing a year for Beloit College in Wisconsin. Corkern transferred after his freshman year to be a Yellow Jacket at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas to finish his college baseball career.

Zach Frazho has also joined the Elwood Legion coaching staff. The Gothenburg native has been involved in youth sports in the Elwood area for several years and will now add Legion baseball to his repertoire.

The head coach, Keith Henggeler, played Legion and High School ball for Pius High School before going to Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Mo. After playing for the Wolves, Henggeler played independent minor league baseball from 2007-2009 in the Atlantic and Continental Leagues.

With a coaching staff that has intimate knowledge of baseball culture, the Elwood, Eustis and Arapahoe boys are in good hands.

They hit the field for the first time on Thursday this week to scrimmage with Lexington Pinnacle Bank Legion players. The game wasn’t about scores, but would be better seen as two programs testing their mettle. The Bulls seemed a little skittish in the first inning of their game with Lexington, but after shaking some first inning jitters their game improved.

Lexington may have scored more runs in the scrimmage, but the Elwood-Eustis Bulls still won something for themselves.

“The coaches are extremely proud of what was accomplished at the ball field tonight,” Coach Henggeler wrote in a social media post after the game. “Our team, which is made up of younger players, competed great against a well-rounded Lexington team.”

The Elwood-Eustis Bulls begin their season on Sunday, May 26 at home when they host Imperial for a double header with games set to start at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

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