Last season, Post 42 in Martinsville returned to the field with two junior legion baseball teams. This season, it’s Post 105 in Patrick County returning with a junior legion team of its own.
Tal Swails just completed his first season as the varsity head baseball coach at Patrick County, and now he is heading up Post 105. Swails said by phone Thursday the team has 14 players, seven who played on the Patrick County varsity team last season. The other half of the team is comprised of junior varsity players, as well as a rising eight grader, all from within the Patrick County baseball program.
“(This) was probably more important than anything else we could’ve done,” Swails said. “It was the most important thing possible for our high school program.”
The Cougars lacked experience going into Swails’ first season as head coach. There were players that were forced into roles they were unfamiliar with, which made putting together a lineup and making changes in-game extremely difficult, especially with his pitchers. That’s where Swails hopes having this team together during the summer will benefit the baseball program as a whole.
“I can put guys on the mound and say... you have 75 pitches for the game, or 85 pitches for the game,” he said. “You can’t do that in a high school game. You don’t have the luxury of letting the kid learn in high school. They have to already be somewhat seasoned.
“I’m so excited to to be able to teach and have time to teach and give them time to learn in quality, competitive game experiences.”
The other major benefit Swails foresees having nearly all of his varsity players on the team is building leadership, rather than being forced into that role when the varsity season rolls around.
“It gives those guys a chance to develop that leadership, as opposed to being dumped right into it when the season starts,” he said.
Post 105 got started with a 9-2 loss against Roanoke Post 5, a team comprised of players from Lord Botetourt, Cave Spring, William Byrd and North Cross. Like Post 5, most of teams Patrick County Post 105 will play will be made up of the best players available from multiple schools. Post 105 is entirely a Patrick County team.
“Truthfully, I don’t even know what to expect from all these different programs,” Swails said. “I know that, for the most part, we’re going to be a little out-talented throughout the roster... I’m not even sweating that... This junior legion program is all about building Patrick County High School baseball.”
Post 105 hasn’t played since that loss to Roanoke back on June 5. The doubleheader against Post 42 in Martinsville on June 7 was rained out. The team took this week off, but will return to the diamond next week with games Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Roanoke Post 5 (A) and Thursday against North Stokes, both games at Patrick County at 7 p.m., and then a doubleheader Saturday at home against Roanoke Post 5 (B) beginning at 4 p.m. Post 105 and Post 42 will meet for the first time June 24 at Patrick County at 7 p.m.
“We are building our program from this legion program. It’s us and us alone,” Swails said. “If we get better every week all summer long we’re going t be a whole lot better off.”
Chris Doherty is a Sports Reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him 276-638-8801 ext. 215. Follow on Twitter @BulletinSport