American Legion Twins preview: The pieces are there, but they’re not in place yet

American Legion Post 20 Twins coach Robb Quelland has a bunch of puzzle pieces in front of him that he thinks will make a nice finished product.

Now he just has to figure out how to put it all together.

The Twins start their season today with a game in Anchorage against West at 6:30 p.m.

“We’re bringing kids from different schools and coaches together into one program to compete with schools that play the high school season together,” Quelland said. “Most of the teams wear the same jersey they do in high school.

“So we have a few days to get ready when they’ve had three months in high school.”

The Twins bring together the high school programs from Homer, Kenai Central and Soldotna. This can sometimes mean a slow start, but three state Legion titles attest that the Twins can put it all together.

Last season the local nine nearly added a fourth, losing the state title game to Chugiak. The Twins lost just three main players from that team.

“We’re excited about the capability and the talent, but we still have to come together and play as a team,” Quelland said. “We’re excited about the players at both levels.”

The Twins program has two levels, AA or varsity and A or JV. But Quelland said this year could be unique with the levels meshing more than usual.

“In years past, the teams have been really separated but with the quality of play, both rosters are not set,” Quelland said. “We’ve got two very competitive squads.”

Quelland said the depth speaks to the quality of the high school programs on the Kenai Peninsula.

Early on, Quelland said the AA squad will lean on the vets who have already been out of high school for a year — JJ Sonnen, Justice Miller and Klayton Justice.

The Twins also have seven of the starting nine from a Soldotna team, also coached by Quelland, that just qualified for state.

Those players are Kenny Griffin, Calvin Hills, Joey Becher, Cody Quelland, Terrance Slats, Mathew Daugherty and Mason Prior.

From Kenai Central, Quelland also said Paul Steffensen is a big addition, and Gavin Petterson also will get innings on the mound and serve as a backup catcher.

The Twins also get a big injection of talent from Tyler Covey, who didn’t play for the Stars high school team this year, and Josh Darrow, who had a successful senior year in Utah.

On the mound, Quelland expects Becher and Daugherty to lead early, but with a lot of players with pitching experience, he said there’s no telling what the staff will turn into by season’s end.

Behind the plate, Griffin will be a veteran catcher backed up by Cody Quelland and Petterson.

The infield and outfield will be where coach Quelland has even more pieces to arrange.

“We have players that can play multiple places,” Quelland said. “It’s going to come down to who’s swinging the bat. It’s a luxury we have.”

The coach said the team has come together quickly. He credited the players and team manager Lance Coz for making the sacrifices to make baseball happen in the summer.

“In the few short practices, there’ve been no high school team colors on the field,” Quelland said. “It’s all Kenai Post 20 Twins.”

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