Legion baseball, softball — where does Chatham County go looking forward?

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 8/2/19

It’s hard to believe but summer baseball and softball are almost finished in the area.

The Eastern Randolph American Legion team was competitive but injuries and several key players opting for …

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Legion baseball, softball — where does Chatham County go looking forward?

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Posted

It’s hard to believe but summer baseball and softball are almost finished in the area.

The Eastern Randolph American Legion team was competitive but injuries and several key players opting for other alternatives played a big role in the local bunch not getting over the hump more often than not. Regardless a lot of area players like Chris Morgan, Camden Fuquay, Connor Murphy, and Samuel Murchison got some competitive game action against some talented teams.

Post 81 certainly has been more than hospitable with our area players. Jerry Kidd, Brian Hileg and those guys are first class.

With that said, the idea of a Chatham County Post 93 legion team again is certainly nostalgic at the least. Or even the revising of a Palomino team, which saw Chatham County go to a pair of World Series Tournaments in the past decade.

The key to that success was keeping our top players home, some great coaching from the likes of Rick Parks and Barry Culberson, and perhaps the biggest key - Palomino played just seven innings.

For decades it was impossible for Chatham County to compete with only our players due to legion games lasting nine innings. We simply would run out of arms.

Only when Edd Marsh and company began adding players from Lee and Orange counties could Chatham County consistently compete. But now, with the growth of Northwood as well as the addition of Chatham Charter, I think a Post 93 squad is very feasible. IF we keep our players home from all the schools, not just one side of the county or the other, and even add a few players from elsewhere.

I know some have even discussed a Palomino team again. So it will be interesting to see what happens going forward, though our players suiting up for Eastern Randolph just across the county line certainly hasn’t been a bad scenario at all in recent years.

Speaking of Edd Marsh, there are a host of the Marsh clan on Randolph County Post 45. Last season Trevor and Bryce Marsh led the team to the World Series, and Trevor, Tatum and Blake Marsh just helped Randolph County win the Area III championship and a berth into the North Carolina State Tournament over in Cherryville.

Post 45 went 2-1 in the Stars Division play over the weekend, but suffered a 3-0 loss to Fuquay Varina in the semi-finals of the tournament on Monday afternoon to be eliminated. Wilmington and Fuquay Varina were squaring off on Tuesday to decide the 2019 state title.

Despite the loss, Randolph County isn’t done as Post 45 will once again host a Regional at McCrary Park. Unlike the previous six seasons, however, it will be the Mid-Atlantic Regional instead of the Southeast Regional. It will certainly be a bit strange seeing the likes of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky replaced by a field that now will feature champions from Delaware, New York, Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey. Virginia will also move into the Mid-Atlantic Regional with Randolph County and the winner of Fuquay Varina and Wilmington.

With Randolph County’s most recent success in the Southeast Region, it will be interesting to see how Post 45 and the North Carolina state champion fare against teams from up in the Northeast. There are intriguing matchups all over the board.

The tournament will run from Wednesday, August 7 through Sunday, August 11. Opening day games set for Wednesday are Delaware versus West Virginia at 9:30 a.m., Virginia versus New Jersey immediately afterwards, Maryland versus North Carolina at 4:30 p.m., and Randolph County versus New York immediately after.

One thing’s for sure: you will see a lot of great baseball, a lot of the Marsh family in the crowd, and a whole lot of people from Chatham County in attendance.

Switching gears to softball, it certainly was disappointing that Chatham County didn’t follow up in some form and fashion (to my knowledge) with a high school-aged team of some sorts after taking the World Series title in the Dixie Youth last summer in Louisiana. Not to say that the players weren’t playing somewhere, such as Mary Grace Murchison, Raynee Redington and Olivia Hudson competing for Region 3 in the State Games of North Carolina, but we have the talent to field a team year in and year out during the summer. You need to look no further than our local high school teams.

Viable options — Dixie Youth, Babe Ruth, and one that has flown under the radar, American Legion.

Yes, there is now American Legion softball in North Carolina, and its in its third summer of play.

Eastern Randolph, Southwestern Randolph, Orange County and Southern Alamance are already playing in a league representing Area III. Eastern Randolph and Southern Alamance were slated to settle the Area III playoff title on Tuesday, July 30 in Ramseur before an Area III All-Star Game for the Juniors at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 9 at Anderson Stadium in Chapel Hill, followed by a Senior Game at 8 p.m.

The North Carolina American Legion Softball State Tournament will get underway in Shelby on Monday, August 12.

So some good things are happening in the area for girls softball, and I think we need to make sure our Chatham County players have the opportunity to compete together in the future, if they in fact there are the numbers and interest to do so. I’m open to any and all suggestions to make sure it happens.

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