World Series Champs Troy Post 70 set for 2023 season

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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The 2022 Troy Post 70 19U summer baseball team captured the American Legion World Series Championship and a new-look version of the team will look to find similar success in 2023.

Post 70 19U coach Ross Hixon returns to lead the squad and the team is already hard at work.

“We’ve only had one practice so far and it was close to as expected,” Hixon said. “Some guys are a little rusty and some of them picked up right where they left off. The guys we have are already playing college – or about to be going to college – so they already have self-dedication to stay in shape and get some work in themselves. It’s hard to get everyone together at one time and in one place, so a lot of it falls on them to do their own work.”

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Only a handful of players from the World Series team returns this season, so Hixon expects to lean on those veterans for leadership.

“I do get a couple from the team last year like Tanner Taylor,” Hixon said. “He’ll be a good player skill-wise but also in a leadership role. He’s gone as far as you can go in American Legion Baseball. Drew Shiver from Enterprise was a starting outfielder for us the whole postseason last year, too. He’s another kid that returns from that team.

“Those two are the most experienced as far as legion baseball goes because they got to experience that ride last year.”

Another player that Hixon plans to lean on is Georgia Southern infielder Cason Eubanks, who was an all-state player at Pike Lib.

“Cason Eubanks had to report early (to Georgia Southern) last year so he missed the summer with us,” Hixon said. “He’s a big piece for us, he played three years for us, so he’s very familiar with the program.

“It’s really a new team compared to last year but most of these guys have played in our program as younger players, but just haven’t been on the older team yet. They’ve all played together in the past. Putting a new team together you never know what you get until you put them on the field and the biggest thing is getting the chemistry in a positive direction. Sicne they’ve played together (on the 17U team) that shouldn’t be an issue.”

The 19U team is chock full of current and future college players. A total of five Headland Rams are on the roster in pitcher Tanner Taylor (Southern Union Community College), catcher Trent Weatherly (uncommitted), outfielder Mason Steele (Shelton State Community College), pitcher Jake Johnson (Wallace Community College) and first baseman Luke Nelson (uncommitted). Enterprise is represented by outfielder Drew Shiver (Wallace Community College) and pitcher Brady Richardson (Troy University), as well.

Representing Dothan is infielder Blake Wynn (Wallace Community College), pitcher Brody Lindsey (Southern Union) and catcher Carter Davis (Wallace Community College). Providence Christian catcher Matt Dave Snell (ESCC), Auburn High outfielder Connor Crosby (Wallace-Hanceville), Dale County pitcher Aiden Wright (ESCC), Greenville pitcher Christian Hill (Alabama State), Slocomb pitcher Bryson Brookshire (uncommitted) and Opelika outfielder Bryce Speakman (Gadsden State) are also on the 19U team. Pike Lib’s Eubanks (Georgia Southern) and Ariton outfielder Landon Tyler (uncommitted) round out the 19U roster.

“The key guys I have coming up (from the 17U team to 19U) that will play a big part are Mason Steele and Brady Richardson,” Hixon said. “Steele is a middle-of-the-order bat for us and a good player. Brady will be the youngest player on the team, he just completed his sophomore year. He’s a really big, physical, mature kid. He played with the 17U team last year and we felt like he was good enough to anchor us with the older group.

“Catcher Matt Dave Snell is another one we can lean on with in that leadership position. Another one of our Headland guys, Jake Johnson, is a unique player in that he can pitch right and left-handed. He hurt his right arm and taught himself to pitch left-handed and I still haven’t figured out how did that but it’s very impressive.”

For the 17U team, former Pike Lib head coach Rush Hixon – who coaches at Chipola Junior College – is returning to lead the squad after taking last summer off.

“We have Rush back coaching them now,” Ross Hixon said. “He wanted to get back into the summer baseball scene and Wallace-Dothan coach CJ Upshaw will be coaching with him. They’re going to be coached by two JUCO coaches, I don’t know where you can find that anywhere else in our area.”

The 17U team is filled with a number of local players including Charles Henderson’s Parker Adams and Pike Lib’s Will Rice, Payne Jefcoat and Kade Brookins. Goshen’s Tyler McLendon and Ariton’s Caden Collier are also a part of the 17U team.

Other players on the 17U team include Macon East infielder Gunner Justice, Andalusia catcher Cody Walsh, Providence Christian outfielder Win Brock and Headland infielder Evan Taylor. Headland is also represented by pitcher Trey Scott and Bryce Gover. Cottonwood pitcher Braylon Morris and outfielder Klete Meadows will also suit up for the 17U team. Also featured on the roster is Wicksburg first baseman Easton Dean, Houston Academy’s Cam Dyer, Enterprise first baseman Seth Graham, Dothan pitcher Cole Hewitt and Florala infielder Dalton Jackson.

With the number of college players Troy Post 70 has churned out over the years, the program’s success is unquestionable. Ross Hixon said the key is about connections in the coaching world.

“What we’ve built with our program is about connections with college coaches, whereas when we first started the program it was not the easiest thing to get a competitive team on the field,” Ross Hixon said. “Now, college coaches call us weekly wanting to know who we have playing for us this summer. It’s a testament to the kids we’ve had come through our program.

“Our kids have good success and are good players. Any program of that caliber is about connections. I say to people all the time, ‘If you have a product to sell people will buy it’ and it’s our job to get that product in front of the right people and we’ve been able to do that.”

Post 70 kicks off the 2023 summer schedule this weekend as both the 17U and 19U teams take part in the Troy University Showcase Tournament. The 19U team starts things off on June 2 against Prime 9 Black 18U at Eagle Stadium in Ozark at 10 a.m. followed by a 2:30 p.m. game against the Alabama Outlaws at Eagle Stadium. The 19U team closes up the weekend against Prime 9 Grey 18 in Dothan at 4:30 p.m. The 17U team plays at 4:45 p.m. against Prime 9 Grey 18 at Eagle Stadium in Ozark and then plays in Dothan against the North Florida Blacksox at noon on June 3 followed by a game against Prime 9 Black 18U at 2:15 p.m. in Dothan.