Experience and depth are the hallmarks of this year’s Halifax County American Legion Post 8 Junior Legion baseball squad, which opens its season this week.
Post 8 is slated to play three games this week, starting with a road game against Rocky Mount Monday night. After that, Post 8 has a game set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Halifax County High School and a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday at Halifax County High School.
Post 8 manager Josh Perkins has 10 players returning from last year’s squad that gave Post 8 its second straight district championship, played its way into the third round of the state tournament and finished with a 13-9-1 overall record. Five of the returning players are members of the Halifax County High School varsity baseball team.
“I like the team a lot,” Perkins remarked.
“All around, I think we might be a little stronger than last year’s team that went to the state tournament.”
Post 8 won the state championship in 2017, and with the experience this year’s team has, it could make a strong bid for the state title if situations fall the right way.
The Post 8 team is comprised primarily of players from the Halifax County High School junior varsity and varsity baseball teams. Five returning players, Blake Duffer, Dylan Newton, Shabazz Buster, Nathan Comer and Luke Fulcher, are with the Comets varsity squad.
Jackson Newton, Kyle Barker, Kolby Fisher and Anthony Conner, all of whom played on this season’s Comets junior varsity team, return as does Peyton Chavis, who played on the Bluestone High School varsity team this spring.
Among the first-year Post 8 players are Trey Comer, Kamron Turbeville, Gavin Colwell, Evan Clark, Leo Noblin, Colby Hancock, Dillon Fisher and Thomas Lee.
Lee, who competes for the Halifax County High School boys track team, is the only player on the squad who has not played on one of the high school teams.
“Thomas runs track at the high school, so he doesn’t play on the high school team,” Perkins said, “but I think he definitely could.”
The experience factor will be big with this season’s team, Perkins pointed out.
“We have a lot of returning players from last year, and that helps a lot,” Perkins said.
“They really came together toward the end of the season last year and played especially well in the district tournament. We went to the state tournament and didn’t do what we wanted to do in the state tournament. With the run they put together in the district tournament last year should give them confidence this season.
“I think they know when they play they are capable of beating anybody,” added Perkins.
“That’s the kind of team we like to have. They go after it, and if they do that, we should be fine.”
Perkins has a lot of good hitters on the team and feels that the offensive side of the game is where the team likely will be the strongest.
“I think this team is going to be built on offense, and how we defend behind our pitchers,” Perkins pointed out.
“We’re going to have to play defense, and we’re going to have to hit. I think we are capable of doing both this year.
“Hitting,” Perkins added, is where I think we’re stronger than last year. From top to bottom, I think we have a lot more kids with good approaches at the plate. They all put the bat on the ball. We’ve got a decent amount of pop.”
With regard to pitching, Perkins has 12 players on his roster listed as pitchers, a situation that should provide the team with plenty of depth on the mound.
“We have a lot of pitchers,” noted Perkins.
“We don’t have any dominating arms like we have had the last couple of years, but we do have a lot of strike-throwers. If we play good defense behind the pitchers we should be good.”