American Legion 19U team takes midwest trip

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Troy 19U American Legion baseball team is accustomed to traveling around the state of Alabama, Georgia and Florida during the first couple months of the summer, but this year head coach John Rushing decided to mix things up a bit.

For nearly two weeks, members of the 19U tournament team traveled to Tennessee, Missouri and Nebraska taking in the sites and learning a bit more about the sport they love.

“It was the first time we have done a big trip,” Rushing said. “As we have grown, we have done a little more each year. Last year we spent a few days down in Panama City, this year I wanted to make it a little bit bigger.”

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Rushing connected with a friend of his that is the current coach of the Columbia team in Tennessee. The pair decided to share a bus and cut expenses on a trip to Omaha to experience the College World Series firsthand.

“I made a trip in 2007 with Tuscaloosa, and I really enjoyed the baseball but being able to go to the College World Series games was really awesome,” Rushing said. “I did it back in 2007, so I kind of had a little bit of a feel to it, but that was in the old stadium. This year was new for me because we got to go to the new stadium.”

While at the CWS, Troy was able to watch both of the Vanderbilt vs. Texas Christian games, as well as the Florida vs. Miami game.

Although they were only able to take in three games in Omaha, those weren’t the first games Troy was able to watch on their trip. Before arriving in Omaha they made a pit stop in St. Louis, Ky. to watch the Cardinals take on the Minnesota Twins.

The trip was a memorable trip for not only the Troy players but for Rushing as well.

“Every kid wants to go the College World Series,” Rushing said. “You hope you get to play in it, but if nothing else you hope you get to watch it. Being able to be out there and to watch it, is just one of those things you just don’t get to do. this is the kind of trip I want to make. I want to go somewhere where they may never get to go to.”

The trip wasn’t all about watching baseball, Troy also made the trip to play baseball as well.

The teams participated in games in Columbus, Tenn. as well as in Omaha. Troy finished with an overall record of 6-3. The team won their only game in Columbia before heading to Omaha where they finished with a record of 5-3.

The Tournament in Omaha really pushed Troy to the max, both physically and mentally, Rushing said.

Troy’s challenge was reworking their lineups for the eight games they played in.

“It really stretched us,” Rushing said. “Over five days, we played eight games. We don’t have eight pitchers so we were mixing and matching trying to find the right way to make it work.”

The final outcome for Troy made all the hard work worth it, Rushing said. During their time on the road they beat the reigning state champions from both Arkansas and Tennessee.

“I wanted to be playing on the final day. I knew it would be a stretch to win it because of the number of games,” Rushing said. “That tournament let us know that we are pretty good.”