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Nate Cockman, coach of Liberty Post 81

American Legion play begins

LIBERTY — The past is the past and the present is the present and the present is what Liberty Post 81 head coach Nathan Cockman is concentrating on as Post 81 returns to the American Legion baseball scene.


After missing the 2023 summer season, Post 81 is back with the same post sponsorship, the same field at Eastern Randolph High School but with a new identification as the team will now be Liberty Post 81. 


“We are not taking anything away from Eastern Randolph, we are lucky enough to use their field,” Cockman said. “We all got together and asked what we could do to give Liberty Post 81 the credit they deserve. We’re not about one school, we’re a community.”


It’s a community that has produced some very good baseball in recent years, both at the high school and Legion level. Players from Eastern Randolph, Providence Grove, Faith Christian and one each from Seaforth, Asheboro, Southwestern Randolph, Randleman and the collegiate ranks will represent Liberty Post 81 this summer.


“It was a little bit of a struggle to get players to reinvest into our program, but we have a lot of young guys who are excited about American Legion baseball and I am very pleased with the numbers,” said Cockman, who added a Junior Legion team has also been entered to play this summer. “We really owe a lot to the high school coaches who pushed American Legion baseball.”  


There is a good mix of youth and experience on this year’s team, with one of those leaders being Providence Grove High School graduate Logan Fox. Fox gives the team a valuable member on and off the field.


“Logan Fox, he's exactly what you need in the dugout and behind the plate, a senior leader who has seen it and done it,” Cockman said. “He’s going to be counted on for his leadership. He’s going to wear a lot of hats for us. He’s a great kid.”


Other players from PG include Andrew Thomas, Jacob Flinchum, Grant Underwood and Jayten Beasley. 


Players from Eastern Randolph include Bryson Marley, Cade McCallum, Chance Holdaway, Will Stalker and Avery Right.


Faith Christian players include Mason Strickler, Austin Smith, Ayden Andrews, Noah Lester and Ethan Lester. 


“Some of the Faith guys are a little bit older and they are going to add some experience to the team,” said Cockman, who played at Methodist University for four years. “There's going to be a role for each of them and it’s going to be important that the older guys show the younger guys the steps and how it’s done correctly.”  


Other players on the 20-man roster include Shane Immel from Asheboro, Bauer Bowlings from Seaforth, Carson Williams from Southwestern Randolph, Brody Engle from Randleman and Ethan Frye, a veteran who has a year of collegiate experience.


“Ethan Frye has been in the Post 81 program and he’s been on the Eastern Randolph field and he takes a lot of pride in what we are going to be about,” Cockman said. 


Post 81’s schedule is certainly an aggressive one with 12 games slated between the opener — a 12-2 win over Wilkes County Post 31 on May 16 — and June 2.


“Once we found out we had the interest, we made sure we had a good number of games and quality opponents,” Cockman said of a schedule that includes non-league games with a newly-formed North Moore team, Hamlet, Hope Mills, Mocksville and Chatham County. “We want to give our kids the best experience and show them why American legion baseball is the best baseball to play in the summer.”


Liberty will be in the Northern Division with three games against fellow division teams Randolph County, High Point and Davidson County.


“The biggest thing I told them was to stay together and enjoy the ride,” Cockman said. “Everyone has a role to play and whatever that role may be, do it the best you can.”


Sounds like the right recipe for a successful season.