HELENA — There have been a lot of unknowns this Legion baseball season and one of the biggest, at least at one time, was whether Helena would be able to host the annual Keith Sell Tournament.
Well, the tournament is a go and will get underway Thursday at Kindrick Legion Field with seven teams set to take part. The first game will be Thursday at 12:30 p.m. with Helena taking on the Glacier Twins.
"The kids are excited," Senators head coach Jon Burnett said. "This is the 25th year of the Keith Sell. I played in it as a player. It's a great tournament and we always get great competition here."
While the Keith Sell is normally an eight-team tournament, this year seven teams will play. Joining Helena will be the Bozeman Bucks, Great Falls Chargers, Glacier, Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak, Yakima Beetles and Mudville Pinnacle NW.
"It should be a very competitive field," Burnett said. "Bozeman is the defending state champ and they are a solid team returning the majority of those players. Great Falls went to the championship of the Goldsmith in Billings, so they are playing good baseball right now. The two Yakima team, are contenders year in and year out for the Washington state title and then the Mudville Pinnacle team, I don't know a lot about them, but it looks like they have a couple of Division I signees on their roster, so we are excited about the teams that are coming."
The tournament will be formatted so that the first three days will include pool play, then based on how teams do the first three days, teams will be seeded 1-7 for Sunday's games. Head-to-head records will be the first tiebreaker if two teams finish with the same record.
The top two teams will square off in the championship game Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The Senators will also have a game that evening at 7:30 against Mudville Pinnacle NW in a non-tournament game.
The Senators will also play multiple games on Thursday. After opening the tournament at 12:30 p.m., Helena will play again at 8 p.m. vs the Yakima Beetles.
Helena will then play in the nightcap at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with Mudville Pinnacle NW and Yakima Valley Pepsi Park being the opponents.
"We want to make sure every team gets five games," Burnett said. "So we can't do a double-elimination or anything like that. We will seed teams 1-7 based on how they do during those first pool games."
The Senators will come into the week on a roll, winning eight of their last 10 games, including four straight last weekend to win the Heroes Park Invitational in Bozeman.
Overall, the Senators are 18-9 and 4-4 in the Legion AA standings. After the Keith Sell, Helena will have 16 conference games to close out the season before hosting the Legion AA State Tournament in August.
"Our players are excited to be able to play at home in front of our crowd and represent our city," Burnett said. "All the out of state teams love to come and play here at Kindrick, so it's pretty fun for us."
Here's the complete schedule for the Keith Sell Tournament, which was named after the former head coach and general manager of the Senators.
THURSDAY, JULY 2
12:30 PM Helena Senators vs Glacier Twins Pool Play
3:00 PM Bozeman Bucks vs Glacier Twins Pool Play
5:30 PM Bozeman Bucks vs Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak Pool Play
8:00 PM Helena Senators vs Yakima Beetles Pool Play
FRIDAY, JULY 3
10:00 AM Great Falls Chargers vs Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak Pool Play
12:30 AM Great Falls Chargers vs Yakima Beetles Pool Play
3:00 PM Glacier Twins vs Yakima Beetles Pool Play
5:30 PM Bozeman Bucks vs Mudville Pinnacle NW Pool Play
8:00 PM Helena Senators vs Mudville Pinnacle NW Pool Play
SATURDAY, JULY 4
10:00 AM Bozeman Bucks vs Yakima Beetles Pool Play
12:30 AM Mudville Pinnacle NW vs Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak Pool Play
3:00 PM Mudville Pinnacle NW vs Great Falls Chargers Pool Play
5:30 PM Glacier Twins vs Great Falls Chargers Pool Play
8:00 PM Helena Senators vs Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak Pool Play
SUNDAY, JULY 5
9:00 AM Helena Reps vs #7 Bracket Game
11:30 AM #5 vs #6 Bracket Game
2:00 PM #3 vs #4 Bracket Game
4:30 PM #1 vs #2 Championship Game
7:30 PM Helena Senators vs Mudville Pinnacle NW
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