McPherson’s Senior American Legion baseball team already has an automatic spot secured in the Class AAA State Tournament because it’s serving as the host.
But that doesn’t mean Post 24 won’t be going all out to win the Zone Tournament that begins tonight in Newton.
“They want to win it,” McPherson coach Tony Schmidt said. “We talked about that last night at practice. We want to play loose and have fun, but we want to win it.”
One reason being, the other teams in the zone are McPherson’s three biggest rivals — tonight’s opponent at 6:00 Salina, Buhler and host Newton, which is the top seed.
Post 24 takes a 15-11 record into the tourney, while Salina is 21-10, including a 3-1 record against McPherson this season. Buhler is 17-11 and Newton is 22-6, including a 3-0 record against Post 24.
Schmidt said he is entrusting the ball in the hands of Jack Reifschneider (4-1, 2.01 ERA) tonight. Last week Schmidt said that Reifschneider has been the team’s best pitcher as of late. He’s also the freshest, as he had a light load during the high school season, while Caleb Schmidt (3-2, 1.56) and Marcus McDaniel (2-3, 4.04) have pitched a lot of innings when you figure in the spring season.
Tony Schmidt said he wasn’t sure who would pitch the second game of the double-elimination event. Tuesday’s first game, which pits Monday’s two losers, starts at 3 p.m., then the Monday winners meet 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. An elimination game winds up Tuesday’s action.
Jacob Loecker leads Post 24 with a .451 average and has a team-high 25 RBIs in 22 games. Cody Starkel is hitting .409, while other top hitters are McDaniel (.395), Schmidt (.388), Casen Hoover (.351) and Kolby Reed (.339). Hoover is second on the team in RBIs with 21.
The state tournament begins July 29 at Grant Complex.