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New life for Big Island Post 217

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Get trip to States, afterall

By Mike Forster

 

The dead walk among us!

But, fear not.  There's no need to call out the CDC or the Zombie Response Unit.

In this case, it's Big Island Post 217's American Legion senior baseball team playing the role of the walking undead.

When last we left the Islanders, they were dealing with the fact they'd been eliminated in the District 10 playoffs, a 21-16 loss to Lynchburg Post 16.

Lynchburg advanced to the finals, where it was topped by Danville.

So, Danville, as District 10 champion, was on its way to States, right?

Wrong.  It turns out that the State tourney will take only teams which have at least 12 players to bring to it.

Danville could only muster 11 guys to make the trip to Leesburg.

Lynchburg, as runner-up, had the opportunity to back-fill for Danville.  But the Burgers, too, couldn't manage to get a dozen bodies together.

Which meant that Big Island, as second-runnerup, was awarded District 10's berth in the eight-team tourney.

Without doubt, teams have had more meritorious entrances.  Certainly, it took quite a bit of luck for Big Island to snag this berth.

But, keep three things in mind here, before you become dismissive of the Islanders' chances at States.

First, as far as the teams which finished ahead of it, Big Island played both Danville and Lynchburg on very even terms throughout the season. 

The only game which was neither close nor good was the Islanders' last.  This tournament is a chance at redemption.  "We're not embarrassed to be a third choice," said Big Island manager Kelley Russell.

Second, Big Island enters the State tourney on equal footing with the other seven contestants.  They all begin 0-0 in the double-elimination shindig.

Third, Big Island should bring a bunch of talent to Leesburg.  Russell plans to have 15 players in tow.

"I think we can make some noise," he said.  "If we can get everyone healthy, we can be OK."

The Islanders opened play on Tuesday afternoon (after press time for this edition), after attending a banquet for the teams on Monday evening.  They're guaranteed to play at least one more game on Wednesday.

The first two starting pitchers for Big Island in the tourney are likely to be Tre Allison and Stephen Hueber.

Impressive hurlers during the regular season run, Allison and Hueber automatically give a team a good start just by their presence on the mound.

The return of players such as Garrett Price (who had other commitments over the last couple of weeks), also bodes well for the Islanders' chances.

Of course, the loss of players such as Sean Burch (to the start of the Jefferson Forest football season) will hurt those same chances.