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Home Federal's Ace McKinnis slides into home last season against Hastings at Ryder Park in Grand Island. McKinnis is part of a veteran roster that will lead Home Federal into Thursday's season opening doubleheader at Kearney.

Without any spring high school baseball season and only 17 days spanning the start of tryouts to the first game, there will be plenty of questions about how prepared Legion teams will be for the season.

Home Federal head coach Kirby Wells feels comfortable about where his team stands heading into Thursday’s opening doubleheader at Kearney.

“You hope the guys did quite a bit on their own,” he said. “I’m pleased with where we are at right now. We’re not all the way where I want us to be, but I know with this group effort will never be a problem. That effort makes us capable of playing at a high level.”

Wells said he has a cohesive group with eight experienced seniors on the roster.

“They’ve played a lot of ball and a lot of sports,” Wells said. “Rans Sanders was a leader at quarterback for Northwest during their great season. Carson Cahoy was a leader at quarterback (for Grand Island Senior High). Jay Gustafson would have been a three-year starter for us in the spring.

“I like that we have a lot of great guys who balance each other out. There are 17 guys on the team, and everyone gives great effort.”

Usually making a nearly annual trip to the state tournament tops Home Federal’s goals for a season. But with no postseason in Nebraska this year, that leads to a slightly different outlook.

“The circumstances are different,” Wells said. “We are not able to compete for championships. But I made it clear to the guys that we still intend to compete at a high level. We are playing the best teams in the state. We play Millard North and Millard North. We play in a tournament in Omaha this weekend. We face Kearney four times and Hastings four times.”

The overall schedule will also have a different look. Due to the condensed season, Home Federal plays 14 doubleheaders. That along with the pitch count rules could make things tricky for the coaching staff.

“I kept 11 pitchers, which is a large number, but I thought that was the best way to attack the season,” Wells said. “No one threw too much if at all during the time off. So having enough pitching is our biggest concern, especially with the number of doubleheaders.”

But Wells said the resiliency of the players makes him confident that 34 games over a six-week span won’t be too taxing.

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