Scott County enters as favorite

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Post 369 has won 15 of its last 16 games as it enters the postseason.

Scott County did not enter last year's American Legion District 14 tournament as the favorite, yet Post 369 captured the title.

This time around Scott County is the squad to beat -- but coach Denver Stuckey is far from comfortable as the five-team, double-elimination event begins Monday in Cape Girardeau.

"I like our chances, but it's going to be tough," Stuckey said. "I don't know that we're the favorite. ... Whoever plays the best that week will win it.

"Everybody is dangerous. That's the way it should be."

Scott County is certainly the hottest team in the field. Post 369 has won 15 of its last 16 games and finished the regular season with a 26-9 record, including 7-1 in district play.

"We're on a good roll and hopefully we can keep it going," Stuckey said. "Hopefully we haven't played our best ball yet."

Host Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons (28-16, 6-2) garnered the No. 2 seed, followed by Dunklin County (22-15, 3-5), Sikeston (16-15, 3-5) and Jackson (22-25, 1-7).

Sikeston and Jackson play at 7 p.m. on Monday at Capaha Field, with the winner advancing to meet Scott County at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, at 8 p.m., Cape and Dunklin County square off.

There will be two games Wednesday, including the winner's bracket final at 8 p.m.

Two elimination games will be played Thursday, with the championship scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday.

Scott County's season-ending surge began July 3, when it rolled past Cape 9-3. Post 369 entered that contest with an 11-8 record and with a slumbering offense.

But ever since then, Scott County has exploded offensively, averaging more than 10 runs per game during its hot streak.

"We've really been hitting the ball," Scott County center fielder Blake Dirnberger said. "When we hit like we have been, we're tough to beat."

Added Post 369 third baseman Caleb Daughhetee: "We're playing really well and I hope we're the team to beat, but we know it's going to be a tough tournament to win."

Cape coach Dave Meyr, whose squad suffered both its district losses to Scott County -- by scores of 9-3 and 10-1 -- considers Scott County a solid favorite.

But Meyr thinks his squad should be in the running for the title.

"Scott County has got to be the favorite, with the way they've played the last few weeks," Meyr said. "But overall we've played well this year and I feel good about our team. I think we'll have a good chance."

Ford & Sons has also had a solid offense most of the season, led by Blake Slattery's 11 home runs.

Jackson is the only district team with a losing overall record, and the squad dropped its first seven district games before beating Sikeston last week.

"I think we've played better baseball the past few weeks," Jackson coach Mark Lewis said. "Right now, our whole focus is on going out and trying to get game one."

The district champion earns a berth in the Zone 4 tournament that begins Aug. 2 in Jackson.

As the zone host, Jackson receives an automatic berth. If Jackson wins the district tournament, then the runner-up will also qualify for the zone event.

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