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Sykesville American Legion baseball gears up for second season

When 71-year-old George Richardson started Sykesville's American Legion baseball team this year, he said he wanted to develop a cohesive program that would require a commitment level higher than the average rec league.
The Legion team, sponsored by Post 223, is coming off its first season with a 11-22 record, and while Richardson, the coach, said he couldn't be prouder of the program that is still in its infant stages, he wants to find players who are willing to focus and put in the time and effort.
"We're looking to college development," he said.
Two rounds of team tryouts have already occurred, and the last of which is scheduled 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Freedom Park in Sykesville. Eighteen roster slots are available on each team, one is 17U, the other is 19U. Richardson coaches both teams.
Richardson is seeking any athletes ages 15 and older. He said most of his team last year was composed of 15- and 16-year-olds, with only a single high school senior. Candidates should have made their high school team in the past, as the Legion league is much more rigorous.
"If they can't make their high school team then they probably aren't prepared," he said.
Danny Dobrzykowski, 16, played center field half of the season and left field the other half.
The rising Liberty High School junior said that despite being a young team, Richardson's coaching allowed the players to play at a new level.
"We could pretty much compete with anyone," he said.
There is a six-day commitment to the Legion team, Richardson said, fitting with his mission to foster a competitive athletic environment. He only gives his players Friday off, and the rest of the week is taken up by games and the practices that typically run from 6 to 9 p.m.
"Whenever it gets dark," he said.
Dobrzykowski, who has played baseball for 12 years, said that practices were difficult.
"But it's the best I've ever played," he said.
Dobryzkowski said Richardson has tried to keep some of guys for the upcoming season, but he's not sure he will try out because he's interested in year-round basketball.
Though Sykesville plays in the Western Maryland Legion Team, it typically travels out of state once or twice a season. Most of those ventures are day trips, but last season the team spent the night in West Virginia for a weekend double-hitter series. The home games are played at Liberty High School.
The team has also played legion teams in Howard and Cecil counties.
"We try to get best competition we can get to play, that's how you learn - by playing against good players," Richardson said.
Richardson has coached baseball for more than 30 years, 29 of those as the Mt. Airy Legion coach.
The team is the rival of Sykesville, who beat it three out of five games last season. It also beat every team in the Western Maryland area, according to Richardson.
Only students, or graduates, from Winters Mill High, Westminster High, Liberty High, Century High and South Carroll High schools may participate. Legion rules state that Richardson may only pull from five schools in the county. College students are eligible to try out, though Richardson said the team carried only one college student last year.
"We went up against teams who had as many as 12 college players," he said.

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