American Legion Byron Cox Post No. 72 is state bound.
With a 17-10 record, Post 72 opens state finals tournament play at Highland Park in Kokomo today at 1:30 against Muncie, a team they beat 7-6 less than two weeks ago.
At the end of June Post 72 was 8-7, but have since won 9 of their last 12 games.
“There’s about three different players and if we have them there, it seems like we are a lot more focused and a lot more ready to win,” coach Kyle Proctor said. “The chemistry is better.”
Post 72 has no lack of offense and it has shown up late in games, especially last weekend in three come from behind wins at the regional.
They’re averaging nearly seven runs per game and have seven hitters with a .300 average or better. Recent North Montgomery graduate Jacob Baun is hitting .419, while Crawfordsville’s Zach Fichter and Austin Motz are each hitting .386. Clinton Prairie’s Landen Southern is hitting .368 and has driven in 28 runs.
“Early on we’ve got guys that can put the ball in play and we’ve got guys who get on base and have speed, they’re good base-runners. Our middle of the lineup is pretty stout. They hit the ball hard and drive in runs,” Proctor said. “We’ve been a lot more unselfish the last 8-19 games than we were before.”
Pitching will be the key entering the 8-team double-elimination tournament that runs from Friday-Tuesday.
Pitchers have a maximum of 105 pitches for a single day, and can’t pitch more than twice in the tournament. And the more pitches you throw, the more rest is required to come back and pitch again.
Fountain Central grad George Valencia is the ace and will carry his 5-0 record into the tourney, while Southern has an ERA of 2.6 and leads the team with 61 strikeouts. Danville’s Tony Ramirez has pitched just 22 1/3 innings this season, but is expected to be one of Post 72’s top options.
If Post 72 wins, they’ll play the winner of South Haven and Kokomo at 7 p.m. on Saturday, with a loss putting them in the 1:30 p.m. time slot.
“We just appreciate the support from everybody,” Proctor said. “We are getting a lot of support from the community.”
All games throughout the tournament can be heard live on Thunder 103.9.