It’s crunch time for area American Legion baseball teams.
Freshman and Junior Legion teams now have until this coming Sunday to complete their games with the Ninth District Tournaments at those levels starting next Tuesday.
The major change to the tournaments this year is that only the top eight teams qualify for the postseason. That adds some weight to the regular season and will help the district be able to complete the district tournaments in a reasonable amount of time.
I like the change. It’s a throwback to the old days, which ended in the early 1990s. Also, it should erase some of the problems with Ninth District teams being burned out by the start of the Zone Tournament.
Additionally, it will knock out forfeits in the district events. Every year, it seems that one or two teams at the bottom of the bracket fold after the first game.
This year’s Freshman Legion event returns to Elsberry and one team, Washington, already has a state tournament berth. Post 218 is hosting the state event this season. There is no Zone Tournament at the Freshman Legion level.
As of the last standings, nobody has beaten St. Charles Post 312 in league play (16-0), so that squad would be the favorite.
As of this past weekend, Washington is 15-3 in the league for second place. That’s a pretty good comeback for a team which started the season a little slow.
Hannibal Post 55 (13-4) and Winfield-Elsberry (12-6) would round out the top four if the tournament started today.
The bottom four teams in the tournament would be Wentzville Post 323 (7-9), West (5-10), St. Peters Post 313 (4-10) and either New Haven (5-12) or Warrenton (4-11).
If there would happen to be a tie, it would be broken by head-to-head play first. Record against common opponents, starting at the top of the standings, is next. Runs allowed is the third tiebreaker with coin flip being the fourth.
If three or more teams are tied for a spot, head-to-head results against other tied teams is the first tiebreaker.
Pacific enters this week a half-game out of eighth at 2-10 with eight to play. Elsberry is just behind Pacific.
Outlook — Stranger things have happened, but it would be a surprise if anyone other than St. Charles joined Washington at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field for the state event.
Things are a lot different at the Junior Legion level, where there are 12 teams trying to fight for positions.
Elsberry Post 226 likely sewed up the top seed this weekend with a 2-1 win over Washington Saturday. Elsberry has a 16-1 record and Washington is 14-3.
Union Post 297 (11-3) is a player for the second seed as well if it can win out. Union’s return to Legion baseball has been nothing less than sensational. Despite sweeping Washington, Union remains a game behind Post 218.
There is good news for the locals though. The tournament is being hosted by Washington and will take place at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field and should give the local teams an advantage in travel.
If the season ended today, Wentzville would round out the top half of the bracket.
Other teams qualifying would be St. Charles (9-6), New Haven (9-10), St. Peters (8-9) and Hannibal (7-9).
Hannibal has a two-game edge over Daniel Boone (3-9). Others missing out if the season ended today would be Warrenton (3-11), Pacific (2-11) and Sullivan (0-14). Pacific originally was scheduled to host the tournament.
Outlook — It wouldn’t shock me if it came down to Washington and Union to either determine the other Zone Tournament spot (the regular-season winner gets a spot).
The tournament champion will host a three-team Zone with Trenton or Chillicothe being the lone team outside the district. The Zone Tournament winner goes to Jackson for the state event.
In the Senior Legion district, play goes on for a bit. West leads the district standings at 8-2 with Elsberry and Washington tied at 8-4.
St. Charles (7-4) would round out the top four if the season ended today.
It’s a close fight for the next three spots with Wentzville and Daniel Boone at 5-3 and St. Peters (5-4) holding seventh.
Pacific (3-7) would be the final team if the season ended now with Warrenton (0-7) and Sullivan (0-10) missing the postseason.
The district tournament is being held at Westhoff Park in O’Fallon and the St. Peters Rec-Plex. West and two other district teams will advance to the Zone Tournament at St. Charles along with the winners of the Eighth (Jefferson City or Fulton), and First-Second District Tournament (Trenton, Chillicothe, Moberly, Brookfield and Hannibal).
The Zone 1 Tournament is at Lindenwood University and the state will be at Sedalia again.
Outlook — Right now, West is the top team in the district. Whether someone can improve enough to knock that team off the perch remains to be seen. There’s still a lot of district baseball to be played before things can be firmed up.
Recently, I took some vacation. Yes, I know the concept is very foreign to me, but even workaholics need to get out and see the world, or at least touch base with their families. In this case, I was fortunate enough to be present for my niece’s first birthday.
Allen, Texas, is a very interesting town, especially in how sports are treated there. With over 89,000 people, it would be the seventh-largest city (per 2010 census). In Texas, it’s just another Dallas suburb.
The school athletic complex features a $60 million football stadium which would put many colleges to shame (and unfortunately currently is closed due to cracking in the concrete). My guess is that if that complex was in Washington, it would take up a good chunk of downtown. It’s massive!
The complex includes the track, and another turf field, which would be a pretty good multipurpose venue around here. There are separate baseball and softball fields, and several tennis courts. I didn’t get to see the indoor facilities.
If things weren’t good at the school the adjacent Allen Station Park has several baseball and softball fields (at least two with turf), an indoor natatorium as well as an outdoor pool, a wave park, skate park and multiple hockey rinks. There are over 40 miles of trails there as well.
And, that doesn’t take in the Event Center, which hosts concerts and is the home of the hockey Allen Americans, the Central League champion.
Many of the facilities were in heavy use while I was there. I saw at least two camps taking place. And every morning, the parks workers were making sure the park fields were ready for that day’s action.
In short, it seems that the sports facilities and parks are a matter of civic pride there. I don’t always see that here. Being a smaller city, the resources might not be there to maintain things. I just know I hear the complaints about less being done and field rental fees going up. Honestly, that’s not the way to develop good working relationships with folks who are willing to pay good money to use the facilities. There has to be a happy medium there.