Rawlins’ Benito Lopez tosses a ball during a game last season.

RAWLINS – Pack your sunflower seeds, buy a new pair of sunglasses and tell the in-laws you’re busy, because Rawlins American Legion Post 122 baseball is back.

Although the Generals, Legion’s A team, didn’t produce enough players for this year’s roster, both the Colonels and Cadets – the organization’s B and C teams respectively – are set to take the fields today in the season opener.

The Colonels, who look to prove top dogs in the Southeast Conference, will square off with a non-conference double header with Evanston B, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., while the Cadets aim to knock Lander C out of the park, with games at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

You can catch all the action down at the Rawlins Sports Complex, located at 2099 Harshman St. in Rawlins.

This year’s manager for the Colonels is Pete Serna. And he told the Rawlins Times on Thursday that, with some players coming down to B from A, the Colonels look to turn some heads this year.

“It looks like a promising season,” he said. “The B team is looking really sharp. We’re looking to have a real competitive team this year.”

To do so, Serna will look to returning 17-year-old Generals veterans Benito Lopez and Robert Flores, who proved as last season’s go-to sluggers at the dish as well as the hill.

“They’ve got some pretty good heat,” Serna said.

Other top performers likely to see some good playing time include P.J. Serna and Jake McCoulloch, who, said coach Serna, “is a wall at third (base).”

Meanwhile, coach Serna hopes to see good success out of Carlos Javalera, another 17-year-old suiting up for the Colonels.

“(Javalera) has developed really well,” Serna said. “He’s a really fast kid. Hopefully, we get him at infield.”

Finally, there will be a new but veteran face in the Colonels’ lineup: former Casper Roughneck Michael Esko, who should make for a good fit at second baseman.

“He’s going to add a lot of good footwork and hopefully some promising defense,” Serna said.

Teams vying to take the Southeast Conference this year include Laramie, a team that Rawlins has had good success against in the past, and Wheatland, said Serna.

Although Serna said “we’ve got a solid shot this year” when it comes to taking the cake, there are still a few minor adjustments his team needs to make, especially with the transition from A to B.

“Working our team chemistry I would say,” Serna said.

Thus far, the Colonels have 13 players officially on the roster.

Taking the skipper position for the Cadets this year will be Eli Boudreau.

Boudreau said he looks forward to molding his young team into a competitive and formidable force.

“Basically, they’re young, so I can work with them a lot.” Boudreau said. “It’s all a learning experience.”

Although in their more formative baseball years, likely to get the nod from Boudreau this season includes players like Brian Paulsen, J.C. Ice, Jackson Allard, Noelle Snodgrass and Tommy Chizek, who’ve already shown some good promise in the Cadets’ limited amount of practices thus far.

Including them, the Cadets have 15 players to utilize on this year’s roster.

Skipper Boudreau said they’ll be put to the test against some of the state’s best, including Cheyenne and Casper.

But for today’s opponent, said Boudreau, he wants his team to take it nice and easy.

“I just want to see everyone having fun and playing the game of baseball for the town and for themselves,” he said.

NOTE: Legion Post 122 is looking for additional umpires. For good pay and good fun, there will be an umpire training session at 4 p.m. on Thursday at the Rawlins Sports Complex.

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