Western North Carolina’s last team standing in the American Legion playoffs has done lots of things to get this far.
Practicing is far down the list.
Passers-by surely thought nothing of it Monday as they saw Haywood County Post 47 players run through their drills at Lake Junaluska Elementary School. But it was only the fourth time that Haywood County (17-5) has gotten together for a practice since the season started on May 23.
“I let the kids vote, and they voted to practice,” Post 47 coach Mitchell Whitner said.
“We’re really happy to have won our first-round series (against Gastonia). But it’s the playoffs, so now it’s the time to turn the page and try and get back on track.”
Haywood County begins a best-of-five series with Mint Hill (18-1) on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. doubleheader at Charlotte Independence. The series comes to Waynesville on Thursday for Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary), also starting at 6.
A fifth and deciding game would be played Friday night in Charlotte at 7.
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” Post 47 center fielder Mason Fox said.
“We’ve just gotta hit the ball. This is probably one of the best lineups that I’ve ever been a part of. We all know each other as teammates in the past or have played against each other. Everybody can hit the ball, and that’s what we need to do now.”
Speaking of hitting, Holt Underwood managed a team-high six base knocks, including his first home run, in the Gastonia series which Post 47 won three games to one. Fox, Cal Raleigh and Gray McCurry added five hits apiece.
Nathan Summey contributed four hits and Thomas Tatham and Jace Milkey had two.
Post 47 has scored 225 runs this season, which works out to an average of 10.2 per game. Hunter Stewart (6-0), Bryce Burgess (2-1) and Jake Sutton (2-1) were the winning pitchers in the Gastonia series.
“Overall, our pitchers threw really well, about as well as I’ve seen them throw all year,” Whitner said.
“We really didn’t hit that well early on though and that’s been the one thing we’ve been able to lean on. It was bound to happen at some point. But in the fourth game, we put up 15 runs and jumped on them. We feel good now.”
Post 47 is comprised of players from Haywood, Jackson and Yancey counties.
WNC’s other two American Legion teams – Asheville Post 70 (7-15) and Henderson County Post 77 (8-19) – both saw their seasons come to an end on Friday.