legion ball

Coach Steve Brooks said his American Legion junior team is a strong unit with great pitching and fielding. Photo courtesy of Monique Brooks

MATTHEWS – The Hooks-Orr Matthews Post 235 Junior American Legion baseball team has qualified for the state tournament in its first official season.

The 17 and under team, which plays its home games at Butler High School, won four straight elimination games to become one of the top two finishers in NC Area 4, which represents the Charlotte region. They finished with a 20-8-1 record.

“We played 29 games in 50 days,” Coach Steve Brooks said. “The guys were downright tired after Friday, so we took a couple of days off.”

Brooks said the team isn't necessarily doing anything different as far as practice heading into the state tournament. They are still getting some batting and pitching practice in, but they are ready for the postseason. Games begin this week.

Brooks attributes the team's success to strong pitching, defense and a camaraderie among players from many different schools. The squad consists of guys that play other sports like cross-country, football and soccer.

Travel ball has been a big obstacle to American Legion baseball rosters in recent years, Brooks said, but travel ball can be pricey and some kids may want to take a break from baseball to pursue other sports in the fall and winter months.

Hooks-Orr Matthews Post 235 plans to field a team next year in the American Legion Senior Baseball program (age 19 and under) as well as softball. Demand is high for the junior squad, too.

“It's just taking off,” Brooks said. “We're getting calls left and right for players for next year.”

Brooks credits Post 235, especially assistant coach Greg Smith, which extends beyond baseball. Players have watched “Band of Brothers” and attended Post 235's Memorial Day services.

“It's more than just playing ball,” Brooks said. “There's a mentoring and educational piece as well.”

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