It’s a rare opportunity when a season continues after a state tournament.
With the Emporia Post 5 AAA Legion baseball team winning the Class AA/AAA State Tournament last weekend in Hays, it qualified for the American Legion Mid-South Regional, which begins Wednesday in Hastings, Nebraska.
Post 5 will be the Kansas representative in the eight-team tournament, which has representatives from six states.
“It brings everyone together even more and adds to the family atmosphere we have,” Post 5 Head Coach Anthony Markowitz said of winning the state championship. “They have a lot of passion to play with each other and to fight and compete. They just love being out there together. The ultimate championship is them having fun and creating memories.”
Even though Post 5 just won state on Saturday, it hit the road this morning from Emporia to Hastings for its first game and a pre-tournament banquet.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” Markowitz said. “We’re going to take the approach of our guys going up there and competing, having fun and taking in the experience. I’m sure there’ll be some good baseball up there.
“It’s going to be fun, learning about the other teams and seeing them play.”
Emporia is one of 64 teams remaining in legion baseball, with the winners of the eight regionals advancing to the American Legion World Series, which will take place Aug. 15-20 in Shelby, North Carolina.
“Just knowing we’re up there with some of the best teams is cool to think about,” Cade Kohlmeier said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time and see how far we can get.”
Sawyer Slayden has returned to the program after redshirting at Emporia State and playing also in Baldwin City this summer. He said the extra baseball has benefited him during the off-season.
“At the start of the summer, I talked to Markowitz and tried to convince him to let me play a little bit,” Slayden said. “He let me come back toward the end of the season. It’s really been awesome for me to play with these guys one last time (and) try to help them out as much as I can.
“This is the 20th month in a row that I’ve had baseball pretty much every day. I’ve had a lot of at-bats and I’m seeing the ball pretty well.”
Winning the state championship was great, but more can be in the works if Emporia can continue to play the style it has played all summer.
“This is just icing on the cake, going to playing in regionals,” Kohlmeier said. “We’re just gonna go up there, try to have fun and what happens, happens. If we have success up there, that would be great.”
Post 5 opens up the double-elimination tournament against Fetus Post 253 out of Missouri. Festus enters the tournament with a 32-11 record and was the Missouri State Runners-up after falling 3-0 in 10 innings to Sedalia (Mo.) in the championship game on Saturday. Also in the tournament are Texarkana (Tex.), Bryant (Ark.), Fremont (Neb.), Hastings (Neb.) and Three Rivers (Okla.).
“Double-elimination makes the first game really important,” Markowitz said. “It makes every game important. We’re just gonna go out and do what we do and see where we fall with some of these teams. In the state, we know what to expect with the teams we play in the state tournament. Here, we don’t know much about anybody. We do know a lot about ourselves and that’s you can never count us out.
“(Festus) is probably a team similar to us. You can never count them out. All we can do is worry about ourselves and enjoy the experience. We’ve found ways to win games this year. I know our guys will be ready and hungry to get out there and play again.”
First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Duncan Field in Hastings, Neb.