Augusta’s Nate Love tries to knock down a low throw to third during a game against Bessey Motors on Tuesday at Morton Field in Augusta. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)

AUGUSTA — The summer after high school graduation is an exciting time in life.

Summer jobs, trips to the beach or lake, destination vacations, it’s a season of excitement for a teenager before taking the next step in life.

The baseball diamond is not routinely one of the most popular destinations, but for recent high school graduates of the Augusta Legion baseball team — comprised of players from Cony, Hall-Dale, Winthrop and Messalonskee — that’s exactly where part of that summer is being spent. Instead of enjoying an ocean breeze, players were grinding it out with teammates Tuesday at Morton Field, taking on Bessey Motors in 80-plus degree heat.

Their reasoning? Hope, friendship and love for the game of baseball.

“For me, it’s probably the fact that I’m trying to play at the next level, in college,” said Augusta shortstop Kyle Douin.

Douin is a recent Cony graduate, coming off a strong senior season that included being named a finalist for the Winkin Award, handed out to the state’s top high school senior player. He plans to attend the University of Maine in the fall, and hopes to walk on to the baseball team.


“I just want to try to get myself the best opportunity I can to hone my skills and get as many reps as I can before I try out for (the Black Bears),” Douin said.

Winthrop graduate Colby Emery, love of the game is a driving force. For Emery, playing Legion ball is a chance to extend his baseball career just a little bit further, especially after losing last season to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m also trying to walk-on next year in college, but it’s also an opportunity to get back what we lost last season,” Emery said. “It’s just another chance to play extra ball, and I just love the sport in general.”

That resolve was tested Tuesday, when Augusta fell 11-0 to Bessey Motors in five innings. Augusta had just three hits offensively — all in the fourth inning — with Emery, Nate Love and Brayden Barbeau each collecting base hits.

Despite the loss, players remained upbeat and steadfast in their reasoning for playing.

Augusta’s Kyle Douin, right, makes the tag on Bessey Motors’ Andrew Merrill at second during an American Legion game Tuesday at Morton Field in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“I’m just here for the culture,” said Love, a Messalonskee graduate. “Just enjoy it, hanging out with the guys, make friends. Hanging out with the boys and enjoying the game.”


Friendship is also a driving factor for the Augusta players. Coming from different baseball programs, playing Legion ball in the summer gives a chance for players to make new friends.

“It’s just fun to be around, this is a really good group of guys to be around,” Douin said. “I look forward to coming around every day, whether it’s practice or a game, it’s just fun.”

“It’s great, because I didn’t know anyone on the team (this year), except for one person,” Emery said. “Making new friends, making memories. You remember it forever.”

Akira Warren’s motivation is a bit different. Warren, a Hall-Dale alum, recently wrapped up his freshman year at Husson University in Bangor. Warren cracked into the Eagles’ starting lineup during the season and finished with a .358 batting average, with 13 RBIs in 26 games. Husson went on to win the North Atlantic Conference title and made an appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. For Warren, playing Legion ball is building off the foundation he made during the spring.

“We had a great season at Husson University and I just wanted to keep that momentum going,” Warren said. “As a freshman, I was able to start as a leadoff hitter and play second base. So, I just wanted to get those extra reps in and (not) take the summer off and just keep working hard, even at the gym. Coaches reach out to you (in the offseason), they reached out to me last week. I know everyone (at Husson) is working hard, and I can’t slow down, either.”

After losing his chance to play baseball during his senior year at Hall-Dale, it’s also an opportunity for Warren to play baseball close to home with familiar teammates.

“I’ve been playing with some of these kids since freshman year (of high school), eighth grade year, through Babe Ruth,” Warren said. “Last year, we got our season taken away. It’s great to play ball with some of these kids again. That’s a great team, more like a family, almost.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.