The Randolph County Post 45 Senior American Legion team is in a very familiar position.
Post 45 will be hosting an American Legion regional tournament this week with the opportunity to advance to the American Legion World Series, which will be held in Shelby next week.
Randolph County outlasted the eight-team field to earn three straight regional championships to qualify for the World Series in 2017, 2018 and 2019 before Covid canceled the 2020 summer season.
Post 45 did not win the Mid-Atlantic title last summer, but along with the Asheboro ZooKeepers of the Coastal Plain League, will be hosting the Southeast Regional this summer with the pieces to return to another World Series.
“That’s the goal every year,” Randolph County Post 45 head coach Ronnie Pugh said. “We’ve played some good baseball lately.”
Randolph County will be one of eight teams, which includes state champions from Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee along with the South Carolina runner-up which will be vying for the trip to Shelby.
Randolph County Post 45 earned the No. 1 seed from its conference during the regular season, steamrolled past three playoff opponents before falling 6-4 to Rowan County for the Area III No. 1 seed for the state tournament.
Post 45 won its first two games at the state tournament, which was held at Campbell University, and went 2-1 in their pool to advance to the semifinals where Queen City eliminated them 6-1. Wilmington Post 10 then defeated Queen City to earn the North Carolina state championship.
“We talked about this as a team,” Pugh said. “We’ve won the regional when we won state, won the regional when we lost in the state tournament and won the regional when we didn’t even qualify for the state tournament. It’s how you are playing at this point in the season.
“It’s really still all about pitching over a five-day period.”
Post 45 has plenty of experience as Adam Cole, Robert Garner, Blake Marsh,Tanner Marsh, Tatum Marsh, Alex Martinez, Carson Whitehead and Landon Williamson all played in the regional last year.
Add Randleman High School’s Braylen Hayes and Trey Way, two players who won back-to-back state high school championships with Randleman, and there’s plenty of big-game experience on the roster.
“The ones who were there have relayed their experiences to the other players and talked about how big of a deal it is and how they were treated when they advanced to the World Series,” Pugh said.
“I like our team. We have to pitch it better than we did in the state tournament, but we are definitely capable.”
Post 45 opens the double-elimination tournament Wednesday night against Rock Hill Post 34, the South Carolina state champions. Action continues until Sunday at McCrary Park.