Dax makes a play

Dax makes a play

Chanute Post 170 A had a fruitful year overall.

The junior American Legion squad ended the year with a record of 15-6, which included a win and two losses in the 2021 Kansas American Legion Junior Zone 3 and 4 Tournament at Santa Fe Park.

The year ended after a 3-1 game against Iola, the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

While the season ended with a loss, Chanute head coach Jeremy Wheeler said he loved how his team played as a unit.

That was true throughout the last game of the season. Starting pitcher Parker Manly threw well and connected on a double in the last inning that led to him scoring the game’s only run.

In the field – Manly was replaced by reliever Dax Axleson later in the game – he also made a sensational play for Chanute.

“Parker Manly making a diving play out in right field was what I consider a big moment because if you would have seen everybody in here reacting to that play, it was like, great baseball. And everybody on the team, and even (Ty) Leedy in center, everybody was up,” Wheeler said. “And that was one of my highlights of the year to see that kind of play made, and to see those people rally around him for the play he made. That’s great.”

Chanute started out a perfect 6-0 until two losses to Pittsburg on June 16. Chanute then won two straight before losing two games in a row against Iola on July 7. 

The local 17U group finished out the regular season at 14-4 after knocking off Uniontown in two straight games on July 14. If there is one aspect where the team really grew, it was pitching, said Chanute assistant coach Hunter Friederich.

“We came around a lot on pitching. I stress and stress and stress, get the ball down. If you leave the ball up, they’re going to hit it far. I teach my pitchers all the time, leave it right at the knees, and we progressed on that through the season. We did really good at that in the Zone tournament, keeping the ball down and throwing a lot of strikes.”

In the first game in Zone play against Overbrook, Chanute went down 7-4 while starting pitcher Manly struck out two and walked two in 3 innings of action.

Chanute then won over Ottawa 8-3. Starting pitcher Nate Meisch pitched a gem. The offensive star for Chanute was Luke Noonan, who went 3 for 3.

Then there was the last game of the season in Zone, when Manly struck out four and walked three in 6 innings thanks to his fastball.

The formula for winning baseball was there.

“They’ve come around, Parker, Cohwen (Wheeler), Dax, Nate Meisch. (Meisch) pitched a heck of a game the other day. He went five good innings of just strike, strike, strike. We just booted the ball around a little bit,” Friederich said. “But our pitching has come around this season and I’m very proud of that.”

The offense and defense were executed as well, and these successful aspects of the game equated to a winning season well before Zone.

“I think this season went great. We can’t really have our older guys in there that we had last year on the team,” Friederich said. “Our team was good this year, so will come back next year and be solid.”

As of right now, there will be a senior team next year for the first time since 2019. The best players on the junior squad will move up in 2022. Other than that, Wheeler intends to fill up the rest of the spots with local talent.

“We thank our fans tremendously. Everyone that shows up and everyone in sports. We thank them tremendously,” Wheeler said.

Zone results:

July 18 scores:

Overbrook 2, Garnett 1

Overbrook 7, Chanute 4

Pittsburg 14, Ottawa 4

Pittsburg 4, Iola 3

July 20:

Iola 14, Garnett 0

Chanute 8, Ottawa 3

July 22:

Iola 3, Chanute 1

Pittsburg 6 Overbrook 5

July 23:

Overbrook 5 Iola 4

State qualifiers:

1. Pittsburg

2. Overbrook

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