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Unfinished business
Missing state tournament last year provides Jr. P-17s with motivation
baseball web

Junior Post 17 schedule

June

18 - Kingstree; 20 - at Kingstree (game to be played at Williamsburg Academy); 24 - at Manning (game to be played at Manning High School’s Monarch Field); 27- Manning

Games start at 7 p.m.

Post 17 home games are played at American Legion Park in Camden.

Summertime for most kids is a time to relax and unwind with friends. It is a time where the only priorities are lake days and having fun. 

The committed individuals on the Post 17 Junior American Legion baseball team are not most kids. They display a relentless focus and drive towards the game they love; practicing every week as a team and on their own. The team hopes that this dedication, combined with their natural talents, will manifest itself into a great season.

The Jr. 17ers came into the season with an extra incentive to work hard. Last summer, they were on the verge of making the state tournament. They were up 6-1 against Sumter in the bottom of the seventh inning with only two outs left in the game. Then, disaster struck. Sumter scored six unanswered runs to win the game 7-6. 

“It’s the most difficult loss I’ve ever experienced since I’ve been a coach,” said head coach Will Powers.

Much of that squad remains intact, with many members of last year’s team back in the fold. Fortunately, the Jr. P-17ers have put that loss behind them and used it as a source of motivation. So much so that it even inspired Powers to request to be in Sumter’s region this season.

“The Legion Department called me and asked if I wanted to participate in the Midlands region this year. I chose to stay in the Lowcountry region League 4) just because Sumter is in that region,” said Powers.

The team has already faced Sumter twice this season, losing both games, contributing to a sluggish 0-3 start. The 17ers’ offense has been there as they have scored six, eight and four runs in each game, respectively. That puts the blame for the slow start squarely on defense and pitching, where fielding errors and a poor ball-to-strike ratio have taken their toll. 

“Defensively, we’re making too many errors. We’re throwing too far many balls instead of pounding the zone,” said Powers regarding his team’s pitching and defense.

However, even with its poor start, the team still has an opportunity to fulfill its lone goal for the season; to qualify for the postseason.

“The number one goal is to make the playoffs, because if you make the playoffs, your record goes back to 0-0, and you get to continue forward from there,” Powers said.

This year’s P-17 squad is led in contributions by catcher Zeke Messich, shortstop Zane Catoe, pitcher/centerfielder Matthew Farmer, pitcher Hampton West and right fielder Heath Erwin, all of whom Powers said he was counting on in a big way. The rest of the team’s regular starters are first baseman Silas Coleman and left fielder Vance Munn. Second base is somewhat up for grabs as Channing LeGrand, Jamare Harris and Lane Jordan have all split time there. Third base is similar with Patrick Daniels, Wil Stines and Korbin Hall all seeing the field at the position.

The 17ers are extremely young and oozing with potential to grow as several of the players mentioned have yet to set foot inside of a high school as a student. All of the players also have a tremendous work ethic and a desire to improve.

“I enjoy every single kid. They come to practice every single day ready and willing to get better and learn. They have a lot of talent and a lot of potential,” said Powers.

With this combination of potential and work ethic, there is no reason to believe that this team cannot turn its season around and end it on a high note.

(David Bishop is a rising senior at Camden High School and a member of the Bulldogs’ golf team.  He is interning with the Chronicle-Independent this summer.)