In 31 years of covering sports here at The Missourian, I’ve seen a lot of unlikely things happen.

I’ve seen teams that were expected to dominate on talent alone get beaten by hustle.

And I’ve seen local teams step up and achieve feats above and beyond what was ever expected.

No team exemplifies the latter more than this year’s Washington Post 218 Senior Legion squad.

Post 218 has faced adversity this season. The 22-12 record tells you that.

A month ago, nobody would have thought this team still would have been playing. A month ago, many felt the team’s run would have ended after it hosted the Zone 1 Tournament.

This was one of the few years where Post 218 wasn’t able to fill up a complete 18-player roster from tryouts. In fact, the team had to double-roster just to get to a point where it has decent depth at all spots.

Post 218 tied for second in the Ninth District standings with a 6-2 league record. A tiebreaker dropped Washington to third behind winner Elsberry Post 226 and Hannibal Post 55 (Culp).

Washington had two one-run wins besides losing to the two teams it tied, Hannibal Post 55 (Culp) and Rhineland Post 147. Post 218 ended up third in the Ninth District Tournament.

Only Washington’s host spot in the Zone 1 Tournament allowed it to continue.

At the Zone 1 Tournament, Post 218 wasn’t the favorite. That went to Hannibal Post 55 (Culp) and Jefferson City Post 5. Those two teams clashed in the event’s first game, which set the stage for the two most unexpected twists of the event.

Hannibal scored the first 10 runs of the game and was up 10-3 over Jefferson City when the first odd thing happened.

After a double, two players got into a disagreement, which forced benches to clear and umpires to eject the first two combatants.

Because of the ejection and an earlier substitution, Hannibal didn’t have enough eligible players and had to forfeit.

Post 218’s odds took another hit when it fell to NEMO Post 6 in the other first-round game, 6-5. Washington charged back but fell short at the end.

In the second day of action, Jefferson City put itself into the controlling spot with a win over NEMO. Washington, beaten by the Hannibal Post 55 (Culp) team twice earlier by scores of 11-1 and 3-0, pulled off a 5-3 upset to keep going.

And then the second unusual thing happened.

When Jefferson City played Hannibal, it used a player who didn’t appear on the team’s posted roster.

Upon further checking of submitted paperwork, the player, who saw a bit part in the Hannibal game, was discovered to not be on the roster. After discussion, tournament officials declared Jefferson City was out of the tournament. Because that player didn’t play in the win over NEMO, that win was valid and the two remaining teams, NEMO and Washington, each had one loss.

It set up a winner-take-all game for the Zone 1 title and state berth. This time, Washington won, 3-0.

Some times, things happen to give a team confidence. And that confidence makes that team invincible. That’s what seems to have happened to Post 218.

In three state tournament wins, Post 218 outscored the opposition by a 40-12 margin and dominated the tournament in Sedalia.

This has given Washington the chance to move forward. The team plays this week in Hastings, Nebraska, in the Mid South Regional.

How far can this team go?

It seems to be following in the footsteps of Festus Post 253, which was runner-up in every tournament two years ago until this point, when it won the Mid South title and went to the World Series. Festus came very close to making the national semifinals in 2019.

Washington has the leadership. It’s a veteran staff led by Kent Getsee. The former professional jai alai player has been one of the most successful Post 218 managers in history. This is the fourth team he’s taken to a regional tournament. His teams have won two of the previous three events and finished second in the other one.

Still, it’s extremely difficult to gauge how this team will do at the regional event. Nebraska has 274 teams, and two of them are in the tournament. Post 218 takes on the host team in the opening round.

Other states have far fewer teams. Colorado and Iowa combined have fewer teams than the Ninth District (all levels) had this year.

If Post 218 can continue this confident push, anything is possible. Even if a trip to Shelby, North Carolina, and the American Legion World Series doesn’t happen, this has still been an amazing year for the little team that could.