Going for three: Post 70 heads to Pelham for state tournament

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The American Legion Post 70 19U baseball team is preparing for their pursuit of a third straight state championship. Post 70 will begin the state tournament in Pelham on Friday afternoon.

Post 70 rides into the tournament with a 24-6 record and the team hasn’t lost since the beginning of the month.

“I am very pleased with where we are right now,” said head coach Rush Hixon. “This team started off kind of slower than some of our teams in the past. In this last month of baseball, we have played really well. Everything is trending in the right direction heading into the state tournament.”

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Post 70 began their season a lot later than most due to Troy University playing in the postseason. Hixon believes that was a factor in Troy’s slow start at the beginning of the summer.

“I think us starting so late had a lot to do with it,” Hixon said. “We didn’t start as early as normal. A lot of things weren’t in line until later in the summer. Once we got things going and got guys together finally, they started to gel. Each week they just got better.”

Post 70 made two lengthy trips this summer to Sumter, South Carolina and Columbia Tennessee for two different tournaments. That opportunity gave Post 70 a chance to come together as a team.

“It let our guys be around each other for an extended period of time,” Hixon said. “That really helped us mesh and the team chemistry took off after that.”

On the field, Post 70 has played well in all three phases of the game, something that Hixon preaches about on a daily basis.

“We are going to play our brand of baseball and that is simply to hit strikes, throw strikes and make the routine play,” Hixon said. “The rest will fall into place for us. They have taken that and ran with it. We’ve gotten to where we throw strikes on the mound and we get into good hitter’s counts.”

Post 70 will ride into Pelham as the two-time state champion. This time around, they come with confidence.

“There is a lot of confidence around us,” Hixon said.  “I think the mindset is we have been the standard the last few years in American Legion, winning back-to-back championships. I think these guys know that. We do have some guys that have been on both championship teams. For them to lead the way means a lot.”

Post 70 will play in two pool-play games. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the semifinals on Saturday.

“It’s a two-day deal and it takes four games to win it,” Hixon said. “Last weekend we did the same format, not even on purpose. We played two on Friday and two on Saturday. The guys are ready and prepared for this type of set up. It’s just a matter of us going out and executing.”

Post 70 will play their two games in pool play at noon and 3 p.m. on Friday.