Bulldogs bring back LegionSure, Colton Godbout enjoyed taking to the football field. Yet, with the recent struggles and diminishing program in Carlton over the past couple years, he turned his attention to another love – the baseball diamond.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Sure, Colton Godbout enjoyed taking to the football field. Yet, with the recent struggles and diminishing program in Carlton over the past couple years, he turned his attention to another love – the baseball diamond.
Godbout said he’s appreciated baseball over time, but with the Bulldogs forfeiting last fall’s football season due to the lack of numbers and interest, he explained his new free time was quickly taken up.
“Without football, I began working on baseball in the fall and wintertime,” Godbout said. “Baseball has consumed my life, basically.”
Honing his game in the off season, Godbout is playing ball non-stop throughout the spring and summer. A recent Carlton graduate, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Godbout has been a sturdy Bulldogs varsity player for years and currently plays on Carlton’s American Legion team this summer.
Godbout, a deadly right-handed pitcher and corner infielder, said it’s the first Legion squad in Carlton in a few seasons. Pursuing baseball in college next fall, the cleanup hitter said being back is pleasurable.
“I played Legion as a freshman, so to be playing again is nice,” said Godbout. “I think we’re doing pretty well... about as good as we thought.”
Before the return of Legion, baseball was far from extinct in Carlton, however. Godbout said their ball club won the Duluth Senior League championship last summer, and many of those players have returned.
First-year Carlton Legion Coach Lucas Wiersma detailed that all but one of his dozen players this summer played to the title game a year ago. That experience, Wiersma said, has been vital in making the Legion program respectable in its return. In 14 games, Wiersma said they have six wins.
“And a lot of our losses have by one or two runs,” said Wiersma. “We’ve at times been just a hit or two away from winning.”
Wiersma, 28, who played two seasons of varsity and Legion ball in Cloquet years ago, said kids like Godbout, Zach Veno, Kyle Gunderson, Erik Adams and Brett Balow have all been major contributors this year.
Carlton is a small-school Legion division member in District 8 and plays league games along with neighbors Esko, Moose Lake and Brookston, among others. On Friday, Carlton topped Brookston 8-4 at home at Chub Lake Park, but fell to Chisholm Tuesday 10-9 in a game where Wiersma said they started out hot.
“We were up, but then Chisholm just battled back and beat us,” Wiersma said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. Last week, we were in seventh place, won a couple games and then were in fourth.”
According to Veno, Carlton’s starting shortstop and leadoff hitter, the Bulldogs can be strong when everyone attends on game nights. Although the 5-foot-11 speedster said at times it can be difficult to get the team wrangled up, he noted this summer’s competition is stiff.
“Compared to last year, there are a lot better teams,” Veno said. “It’s fun to always get challenged. It’s going to help us and make us better. And if we’re all here, I think we have one of the better teams around.”
“I think we can play really well,” Wiersma added, noting they play at Ely Thursday before the district playoffs start next week. “Good things will happen if you put the ball in play. We have to stay focused.”
Just like Godbout does nowadays, year-round.
“I’ve always liked it,” Godbout said of baseball. “After college, I’ll be back here as much as I can to help out. It’s just really important to me.”