The Freight is back for one last season

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By Jonathan Stark

The Freight is back for one final go-round.

The two-time ASA National Champion Vandalia Guaranteed Air Freight fastpitch softball team is returning for is its final season.

Just two seasons removed from its last national championship, in 2007, the Freight will play its final season this summer.

Part of the reason this will be the team's last year is the fact that the players are getting older and there arn't many younger players coming in that can keep it going, manager Rich Well said. With the average age being in the mid-40s, the guys just aren't as young as they used to be.

Another major factor is all the travel involved. It’s not only expensive, but also time-consuming to travel across the state every other weekend.

A year ago, the Freight posted a record of 13-8, going 1-3 at the ASA Men’s Major National Tournament.

Last season almost didn’t happen as the team considered stopping after winning a national championship. There was no discussion of not playing this season, as this year's ASA Nationals will be in Decatur.

Along with the Nationals being in Decatur, the Freight will play there for the Decatur Pride in early July and late August.

They will also play in two tournaments in Altamont, the Fourth of July Tourney on Thursday, June 25, through Sunday, June 28. And the ASA  State Tourney on Friday, July 31, through Sunday Aug. 2.

Right in the middle of the season, the Freight will play host to the John Heather Memorial Tourney here in Vandalia. It will run from Friday, July 17, through Sunday, July 19.  The tournament will feature five teams from as close as Mascoutah and as far as Warsaw, Il.

The tournament is named after John Heather, who died several years ago. He donated money to make improvments to the park district and would frequent Freight games.

The Freight will open the season in Missouri at the the Kelso Klassic in Kelso, on Friday, June 12, through Sunday, June 14. With no practices, this tournament will serve as a measuring stick to see where the team needs to improve, Well said. The Kelso Klassic is a traditional tournament that is very prestigious and family-friendly, part of the reason the Freight is returning to it this season.

This year's team is pretty much the same core group of players that were on the team last year.

The squad will feature seven players from Vandalia. Brian Buscher, head softball coach and assistant coach for football and boys basketball at Vandalia High, Luke Hohlt, head baseball coach at VCHS, and Jeremy Curll, a teacher at VCHS.

Payton Cole, Bryan Hobbie and Mark Burnam are also from Vandalia. Superintendent of the VAndalia School District,  Rich Well is also back for his 13th season as skipper of the Freight.

Returning to the team after a few years away from the game is Jeremy Moore of Decatur. Well said he also looks for more players, who haven't played in a while to return this season, since it is the last.