Jr. Legion squad finishes second at state

-A A +A
By Todd Martin

Comprised of players from Shelby County High School, the Jr. Post 37 American Legion baseball team finished as state runners-up last weekend at the tournament in Calvert City.

"I thought the kids played really well and it showed how much talent we have coming up through Shelby County," head coach Bart Roettger said. "We saw a lot of improvement, and keeping guys together for next year's high school season will help."

The heat and the Ken-Tenn team seemed to be the only things that could stop Shelbyville.

After racing through the first two rounds of play, Shelbyville faced Ken-Tenn in the finals of the winners bracket Saturday, coming up short in a tight 5-4 game when a Ken-Tenn player found himself out of position but in the right spot.

"We had two runners on and Eric Standafer hit a screamer right up the middle, but the shortstop never moved back from covering (second) base," Roettger said. "So he was there to make the play at second and then throw to first for the double play. If that guy goes back to the right position, then we tie the game and have the winning run on third."

But that wasn't Shelby's only problem. The team made their first error of the tournament to allow Ken-Tenn to score what turned out to be the winning run in the fifth.

Shelbyville moved on to the finals of the loser's bracket where they drilled Tri-County 10-0 on Sunday, getting a strong pitching performance from Jordan Bailey and Trey Bailey.

Later that day, Shelbyville again faced Ken-Tenn, this time in the championship, but fell again 12-2 after a tough second inning where Ken-Tenn scored nine runs.

"We struggled finding the strike zone in the second, and I think the heat started to get to us," Roettger said. "We still hit the ball, but we just couldn't get that big hit when we needed it."

In the first two rounds Shelbyville tore through the opposition, hammering Paducah 16-8 in the first game and then whipping Mayfield 11-1 in the second.

"We had 32 combined hits in the first two games," Roettger said. "Our guys came out really focused and ready, and Tyler Tipton, Nick Hamblen, Eric Standafer, Jon Hunter and Daniel Stallings were on fire. All of them were aggressive at the plate and did a great job getting hits when we needed them."

The team also got to gems on the mound, with Cory Williams and Ben Glassner throwing complete games. Williams was dominant in the team's win over Mayfield, and Glassner was strong in the team's first loss to Ken-Tenn, allowing just three earned runs.

The team suffered through an up-and-down summer, but Roettger said the improvement showed by the end.

"Guys stepped up when we needed them, and I think we showed how good we can be down there," Roettger said. "We played some very, very tough competition at the beginning of the season, and I think that really helped the guys improve."