An abrupt end to the spring varsity season is providing motivation for the American Legion team from Omaha Creighton Prep.
The 2012 state champion Junior Jays narrowly missed reaching the high school state tournament last month when they lost in the district final to Papillion-La Vista. It was only the second time Prep had stayed home since 1992, but things are looking up.
Coach Pat Mooney's PI Midwest squad is off to a 13-2 start during the Legion season. He said that harsh end to the varsity season should drive his team all summer.
“The guys were disappointed about that,” Mooney said. “We never felt like we got into a groove during the spring, and maybe all of that rainy weather we had played a factor in it.”
PI Midwest enjoyed one of its best seasons ever in 2012, going to the Legion World Series. Mooney said that performance also should serve as motivation this summer.
“We got a taste of it last year,” he said. “Getting to the World Series doesn't happen very often, so the guys who are back know what that experience was like.”
Mooney said his squad's early success can be attributed to two factors.
“Our pitching has been good and so has our defense,” he said. “Our hitting is still coming along, so that's something we need to keep working on.”
CWS tournament set to begin June 19
The annual Legion College World Series tournament will begin Wednesday at eight Omaha sites.
The five-day, 46-team tourney will be played at Omaha Westside, Millard West, Millard South, Millard North, Elkhorn Legion Field, Elkhorn South, Prep and Omaha Gross.
The championship game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 23 at Westside.
“We always have a lot of interest in this tournament,” Westside assistant coach Jim Simons said. “The Omaha teams play each other so much that it's always nice to go against teams from other places.”
The tournament consists of teams from Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Arkansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
State tournaments will begin July 27
The Legion state senior tournaments in Classes A, B and C will run July 27 to July 31.
The Class A tourney will be split between Millard West and Sherman Field in Lincoln. Class B will be at Gering and Class C at O'Neill.
The Legion junior tournament state sites are North Platte (A), Elkhorn Mount Michael (B) and Wakefield (C).
The Class A senior state tourney final will be played Aug. 3. Both finalists will advance to the Central Plains regional Aug. 7 to 12 in Dickinson, N.D.
Getting it done on the diamond
Some recent top performances in Senior Legion play:
>> Justin Gassert, Papillion Pinnacle Bank: He tossed a three-hitter in a win over the 52s Patriots.
>> Dallas Schramm, Tommy West, Fairway Asset Mustangs: Each hit a two-out home run in the final inning as the Mustangs rallied past Medicine Man Pharmacy.
>> Brock Nemecek, KB Building Services: He threw a complete game and struck out nine in a win over the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Cyclones.
>> Mitch Ragan, Roof-Tech Wildcats: He picked up his third win of the season with a 4-1 victory over Elkhorn Post 211.
>> Jared Novotny, Platte Valley: He struck out 10 in a win over Fort Calhoun.
>> Cole Patterson, DJs Dugout: He went 2 for 3 with a home run as the team from Bellevue West defeated Lincoln Judds 5-4 in the championship game.
>> Quinn McGill, Wahoo State Bank: He tossed a four-hitter in a 6-0 win over Elkhorn Mount Michael in the final of the Sam Crawford Classic.
>> Nick Wallman, Fremont First State Bank: He tossed a one-hitter and struck out eight in a win over South Omaha Post 331.
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