Opinion: Losing seasons a distant memory for Legion program

Jun. 11, 2014 @ 11:28 AM

A 4-21 season must seem like light-years ago for the Post 87 American Legion program.
That was their record back in 2006 – the same year the HiToms played host to the state tournament at Finch Field, where they actually won a game and gave a scare to another opponent.
In 2008, a young coach named Rob Shore took over, looking to turn the reputation and fortunes around and turn Post 87 into a respected and competitive program. He has done exactly that.
In the last five seasons alone, the HiToms have enjoyed a winning season and overall record of 112-53, earning two state tournament berths on their own in the process.
They are off to their best start in 2014, posting an 8-2 legion record with many other wins coming in exhibition games. There have been some great hitters come through during Shore's tenure, most notably current Tampa Bay Rays' outfielder Wil Myers. But from top to bottom in the order this could be the best hitting lineup yet. There are no weaknesses and several are capable of leaving the ballpark with one swing of the bat. Zach McLean has already proven his power with a team-leading seven home runs.
With plenty of arms and a solid defense, Post 87 is once again a contender in an always difficult Area III league.
Not long ago, going to the state tournament would have been quite the achievement. Now, not reaching one makes it feel like a lost season. Post 87 missed out last year, losing to Kernersville in the playoffs. It hurt, and the feeling has surely stuck with those that are back for another season. They are motivated to not only get back to state's, but to finally get the top prize.
With the state tournament being held just 15 minutes up the road in Lexington, the desire to earn a berth is greater than ever. It would basically be like a home game for the HiToms, with a large crowd sure to make the short trip of Business 85.
But they must first get there by winning the Area III championship. Two teams from each of the four areas qualify for the tournament. Davidson County is the host team, so they receive an automatic bid. That leaves one spot available, making the margin for error extremely small.
Post 87 has the tools to get deep in the postseason. With a little luck and continued solid play, they will be a favorite to fill the vacant spot.
These next few weeks are going to be filled with some intense and gut-wrenching moments. But it sure beats 4-21.

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or kepley@tvilletimes.com.