Now in its fifth season of mixing high school baseball talent from Belleville East and O'Fallon together, the Fairview Heights Post 978 American Legion club will lean a bit more toward the O'Fallon side this summer.
Eight of the 16 Fairview Heights players on the roster are from O'Fallon High compared to six from Belleville East.
The teams finished third and fourth in the Southwestern Conference this spring, respectively, and combined for 44 wins, with East winning a regional championship.
"I think it's going really well," said Fairview Heights manager Craig Steiner, whose 29-11 club won District 22 and Fifth Division titles last summer before losing to eventual state tournament champion Moline. "You're putting two really good programs on the field together and that's been a good thing. "The kids from O'Fallon have a place to look forward to playing when they finish their senior year and we've been able to fill that gap, so it's worked out really well."
Steiner said several current East seniors decided not to play this summer, which led to additional openings.
The recent heavy rains have kept Fairview off the field, but Steiner -- who has been with the Fairview Heights American Legion program since 1998 -- said his club can't wait to get going.
"It takes a week or so to get warmed up with each other and to get to know each other, but that's worked out really well," said Steiner, whose team plays at Bethalto at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Steiner likes his team's deep pitching and solid defense. He hopes the offensive production will be there as well.
The first basemen are Jake Jarvis (O'Fallon) and Olivet Nazarene player Joel Yates (East). At second base, Steiner will use a combination of Nathan Schmittling (East), Andrew Witkowski (Collinsville Christian) and Tyler Scimio (O'Fallon).
Tanner Hudson (O'Fallon) and Yates will handle third base duties.
Outfielders from East include Marty Brunk and Danny Hughes and the O'Fallon outfielders are Jake Warren, Kyle Boewe, Robert Guithues and Wild.
Steiner said Boewe ran track this spring for O'Fallon, but did not play baseball.
The catchers are Brenndon Tindall (O'Fallon) and Brandon Hoguet (East), although Hoguet also is playing Mon-Clair League baseball this summer.
A potentially deep pitching staff includes East's Sam Bassett, Brunk, Schmittling and Hughes along with Wild, Scimio and Guithues from O'Fallon.
Richard Boatman, a former O'Fallon player who transferred to Triad this season, also will pitch for Fairview Heights.
The starting rotation includes Bassett, Wild, Boatman and Scimio.
"I really like our pitching and our defense," Steiner said.
Fairview Heights is hosting the Fifth Division Tournament this season and the state tournament host is Trenton. Both teams will gain tourney berths by hosting the events.
On Tuesday before its 7:30 p.m. home game against rival Belleville, Fairview Heights will honor former Post 978 player Cody Schanuel. There will be a plaque dedicated in honor of Schanuel, who died last winter after a battle with cancer after playing five years in the Legion program.
Steiner said Schanuel always enjoyed playing Legion ball in the summer.
"His family said that was some of the most fun he had," Steiner said of Schanuel, who played for Fairview's 2009 state championship Junior Legion team and 2010 Senior Legion team that reached the state tournament. "He was the ultimate teammate. If you want a kid playing for you, he was the one that always gave it his all."