Looking ahead

Published 11:05 am Thursday, July 10, 2008

Clanton’s American Legion Post 6 junior team trailed Demopolis 9-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning of a seven-inning game, so the guys in the dugout put their noses to the grindstone.

Post 6, which is made up of Chilton County High players, scored eight runs in the inning to tie the game, shut the visitors down in the top of the seventh then won the game in their final at-bat. Coach Josey Shannon said the outcome was the kind that can transform the mindset of a group of high schoolers.

“It’s easy for a team to just lay down and get ready to take it to the house,” Shannon said. “They never thought about losing that game. They thought about how they could win it.”

There were reasons for Post 6 not to succeed: the CCHS varsity team struggled last year then dealt with the exit of coach Todd Reece. No replacement has officially been named yet, but the players have sustained their efforts to improve.

The Demopolis game, for example, was one this group of players might not have won in the past, but Shannon said he has seen this group mature over the course of the summer.

“I’ve seen them progress more mentally than physically,” he said. “They’ve always had what it takes talent-wise.”

The Post 6 players have shown what they can do when they put both aspects of the game together, winning eight consecutive contests going into Thursday night’s doubleheader at Tuscaloosa. The results from those games came too late to be included in this edition, but the season will be seen as a successful one no matter the outcomes.

The American Legion format offers the Post 6 players, whose record stood at 18-4 before Thursday’s games, an advantage over their counterparts from other county schools, many of whom stayed with their high school teams. Those squads are allowed seven play dates during the summer. There is no such limitation, however, on American Legion teams.

Shannon said the emergence of leadership has been important to Post 6’s success. Cameron Teel and Justin Veazey have been vocal leaders.

Then there is the influx of younger players.

Tenth graders Chance Calloway, who carried a significant portion of the pitching load, and Adam Minor, who has yet to have a hitless game, have been regular contributors.

“I’ve got some young guys coming through that are mature beyond their years,” Shannon said.