BLACKFOOT â€” All summer long the Blackfoot Broncos American legion baseball team has been on of the tops teams in Area 'C'.
The Broncos were so good in fact they earned the top spot in the west division of Area 'C' and a first round bye into the quarterfinals of today's American Legion district tournament that begins today at Halliwell Park in Pocatello.
But the Broncos will not be the only team from Bingham County that will be participating as after a 10-year hiatus the Shelley Russets have earned a spot in the tournament after finishing the regular season as the fifth seed in the east division.
While both teams have qualified with the end goal of making next week's state tournament in Idaho Falls, each plays the game a little different and each has had their trials and tribulations over the long hot summer.
Led by head coach Jeff Katseanes, the Broncos are made up of a large chuck of the Blackfoot High School varsity baseball team, that experience has proved to be a big advantage for the team during the summer.
Led by pitcher/third baseman Taylor Pearson and utility man Cody Evans the Broncos can put up runs in bunches. One through nine there may be no stronger lineup than the Broncos can trot out every day.
While the offense has been good most of the summer, the defense for the Broncos had been one of the weak spots for the team and that is because of the rash of injuries that has struck the team during the summer.
At any point during the season at least one Bronco player has been unavailable due to injury or fatigue.
Catcher Tyler Lindsay, pitcher Dallin Fairchild, third baseman Cade Adakai and shortstop/pitcher Russell Osborn have all missed significant time with injuries. Osborn was shut down three weeks ago after having to undergo arthroscopic surgery for damage to his throwing shoulder.
But when the Broncos take the field this afternoon they should be well rested. The team has not taken the field for a game since being swept by Bear Lake a week ago.
under Katseanes' leadership the Broncos have been at or near the top of the district standings, however they have not been able to earn that elusive state championship.
This years group is poised to do just that.
The Russets on the other hand have definitely gone some through some growing pains during the season before picking up some momentum late.
Shelley began the season with two 10-run shutouts to the Pocatello Razorbacks, they lost pitcher Kaden Schmitt to a double 'AA' squad the same week, but since that week the Russets and head coach Tom Bean figured each other out and it paid off on the field.
Led by first baseman Konnor Gilstrap, shortstop Tyler Bean and center fielder Josh Peterson the Russets have gelled into a well oiled machine.
During the season the Russets have earned doubleheader sweeps of the Idaho Falls Rangers, Pocatello Rebels and the Broncos and for a time were near the top of the standings.
Unfortunately some late season losses put Shelley in the number five spot.
The Russets have made noise all summer long, that should continue in the tournament.
Shelley takes on Burley today at noon at Hawthorne Park, the junior varsity field behind Halliwell Park.. Blackfoot takes o the winner of the Buhl/Rigby game today at 3 p.m. at Halliwell Park. The tournament runs through Sunday in Pocatello.