By BOBBY WHITT/Contributor
Woodbury will have an American Legion baseball team in 2013.
The Woodbury Post 279 Lions began their first summer of competition in the 14th annual Tullahoma Cardinal Classic and finished fourth out of 16 teams last weekend.
The Woodbury Post 279 squad is a 17U team that is comprised of Cannon County High School Baseball players. The team went 2-2 in the Cardinal Classic. Post 279 defeated Tullahoma 6-0 and Smyrna 11-6. The Lions suffered a setback against four-time defending American Legion state champion Columbia Post 19 in the semifinals. They dropped a 3-1 decision against Warren County in the third-place game.
“I am proud of the team. I thought we played well against good competition,” Lions coach Tony Stinnett said. “Most of the teams in the this tournament were high school teams like ourselves. We matched up well in those games.”
Stinnett said this year’s Post 279 team will primarily play weekend tournaments out of town. The team was unable to schedule home tournaments this summer because most teams already had a full schedule. The Lions practice on Mondays and Tuesdays and play on the weekends.
They will play in the King of the Mountain Invitational at Grundy County this weekend.
The Lions began play in the Tullahoma Cardinal Classic with an impressive 6-0 win against the hosts.
Nathan McGuire, a rising senior, pitched a one-hit shutout to lead the Lions. He struck out four.
“(McGuire) has put together a string of consecutive quality starts,” Stinnett said. “Consistency is the big thing for Nathan so it has been good to see him locating his pitches and consistently giving the team a chance to win.”
The Lions went on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first when rising sophomore Tucker Francis ripped a two-out single to score Jared Judkins and Trent Bragg.
The score remained 2-0 until the sixth when Post 279 scored four insurance runs. Sam Schau, an incoming freshman, was 2-for-3. Judkins and Jake Todd also had key at-bats for the Lions.
Post 279 turned back Smyrna 11-6 to reach the semis. Rising sophomore Graden Strang earned the win on the mound.
The Lions scored three in the first. Judkins started the inning with a single. Trent Bragg was hit by a pitch and Strang delivered a RBI single. With two outs, Austin Martin came through with a clutch hit to push the Lions ahead 3-1.
Post 279 tacked on four in the third. Strang singed and stole second and then scored on Francis’ RI single. McGuire singled and Jake Todd drove in two runs with a triple. He scored on Schau’s hit. The Lions borke it open with four in the fourth. Bragg’s double and McGuire’s two-run single were the big blows.
Strang was 2-for-2 with three runs scored. Francis was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Todd added a triple to lead the Lions’ 12-hit attack.
Post 279 ran into a buzzsaw against Columbia Post 19 and suffered a 13-0 setback.
The Lions bounced back with a solid performance against Warren County but suffered a 3-1 setback in the third-place contest. Post 279 was able to get the tying runs aboard in the seventh but couldn’t get them across.
Judkins’ RBI single scored Austin Martin for the team’s only run. Strang pitched four-plus innings of shutout baseball for the Lions. Jackson Mason was 1-2 with a walk Bragg, Martin and Judkins also had hits.
“We had several positives throughout the tournament,” Stinnett said. “Overall the defense was good and the pitching was sound. We have to continue to work on executing on offense but we are putting more balls in play and hitting more balls solid. (Judkins) was a positive in centerfield. He played well and he did a great job in the leadoff position. “Austin Martin played well throughout the weekend at first and also hit well. Tucker Francis was a bright spot in the middle of the order. Several of the younger players stepped in and did well.
McGuire and Strang had solid pitching performances. There is a lot to build off of this weekend.”