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Millard Sox 'wreak havoc' on way to Legion state baseball tournament
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Millard Sox 'wreak havoc' on way to Legion state baseball tournament

Check out the All-Nebraska baseball teams since 2010.

The Millard Sox Black squad had a simple strategy at the recent American Legion area tournament.

“We wanted to wreak havoc,” coach Brandon Jalass said. “We wanted to show people who we were.”

The team, seeded fourth in the seven-team tourney, wreaked enough havoc to earn a berth in the Legion state tournament that begins Saturday. It will be the squad’s first appearance at the event since 2012.

Perhaps no team enters each game with more motivation than the Sox. The 17-player roster consists mostly of players who were cut from other Legion programs — 14 from Millard West and three from Papillion-La Vista.

“Our guys usually aren’t very happy with the way things went before they got here,” Jalass said. “They play with a chip on their shoulder and want to stick it to everybody.”

The Sox stuck it to several teams while compiling a 24-18 record. Their tournament finishes were first, second, third (twice) and fifth.

The team also played well enough in the A-1 area tournament to finish as the runner-up to host Bellevue West.

“We had seen a lot of those teams during the summer and we knew that we could play with them,” Jalass said. “It was just a matter of putting it all together.”

After a first-round win, the Sox were defeated by the host Thunderbirds, the top Legion team in the state with a 49-2 record. That setback led to a team meeting as the Sox fought to stave off elimination.

“We had a couple seniors step up, and we needed that,” Jalass said. “They didn’t want our season to end that way and it lit a fire.”

After defeating Omaha North in an elimination game, the Sox faced the team from Ralston. That squad was coming off a nine-inning loss the previous night against Bellevue West.

“We knew that was the game to get us to state,” Jalass said. “We were all a little nervous at the start but we played through it.”

When it was over, the Sox had pounded out a 13-3 victory and went on to finish as the A-1 runner-up — good enough for a berth in Saturday’s state tournament.

The Sox will be part of the National Division, contested at Den Hartog Field in Lincoln. Their first game will be at 4 p.m. against Fremont First State Bank, the defending (2019) state champion. The Legion state tournament, regionals and World Series were canceled last year because of the pandemic.

“We really stress a team concept where every guy is counted on to contribute,” Jalass said. “They’ve bought into it and that’s why I think we reached this goal.”

Other National Division first-round games Saturday will be Carpet Land (Lincoln East) vs. Pinnacle Bank (Papillion-La Vista) at 10 a.m.; North Platte First National Bank vs. Arbor Bank (Omaha Skutt) at 1 p.m. and Anderson Ford (Lincoln North Star) vs. Wolfe Electric (Millard West) at 7.

Four games also will be played Saturday in the American Division at Omaha Westside.

The division finals of the double-elimination tourneys will be Wednesday, with the winners advancing to the best-of-three state final. That champion will move on to the Mid-South Regional in Hastings.

Jalass, in his 12th year coaching and fifth with the Sox program, said his team is ready for the challenge.

“I think a lot of weight was lifted just trying to get to the tournament,” he said. “Our team is pretty stoked to get going.”

The schedules:

National Division (at Den Hartog, Lincoln)

Saturday: Carpet Land (Lincoln East) vs. Pinnacle Bank (Papillion-La Vista), 10 a.m.; North Platte First National Bank vs. Arbor Bank (Omaha Skutt), 1 p.m.; Millard Sox Black vs. Fremont First State Bank, 4; Anderson Ford (Lincoln North Star) vs. Wolfe Electric (Millard West), 7.

Sunday: Losers bracket games at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; winners bracket games at 4 and 7.

Monday: Losers bracket games at 1 p.m. and 4; winners bracket game at 7.

Tuesday: Games at 4 p.m. and 7.

Wednesday: Championship, 4 p.m. (a second game to follow, if necessary).

American Division (at Omaha Westside)

Saturday: JC Brager (Lincoln Southeast) vs. Prime Time Sporting Goods (Omaha Burke), 10 a.m.; Hastings Five Points Bank vs. Omaha Five Points Bank (Creighton Prep), 1 p.m.; DC Electric (Bellevue West) vs. Gretna, 4 p.m.; KB Building Services (Westside) vs. Papillion-La Vista South, 7 p.m.

Sunday: Losers bracket games at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; winners bracket games at 4 and 7.

Monday: Losers bracket games at 1 p.m. and 4; winners bracket game at 7.

Tuesday: Games at 4 p.m. and 7.

Wednesday: Championship, 5 p.m. (a second game to follow, if necessary).


Omaha World-Herald: Nebraska Prep Zone

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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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