American Legion baseball has lost some of its luster over the past decade, but when it comes to amateur summer ball, many still consider Legion to be the pinnacle.
Legion-backers have a good argument to make.
Seventy-seven Legion alum are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and many more are certain to end up in Cooperstown down the road.
And while American Legion baseball’s participation numbers have dipped in recent years, some 3,500 teams across the country still carry the Legion banner, and each Legion season culminates with a well-attended national championship tournament in Shelby, North Carolina, which is aired on ESPN.
American Legion baseball is still a big deal. And one local Legion team was among the best in the country this summer.
Southington Post 72 captured the 2018 state championship — the program’s first in a quarter century — and advanced to the semifinals of the Northeast Regional before running out of steam.
Post 72’s remarkable season came to an end Saturday, Aug. 11 with a 10-3 loss to Braintree, Mass.
“Proud of these kids and proud of being state champs,” Southington coach Marc Verderame said following his team’s exit from the Northeast Regional.
“We had a great run and we have plenty to be proud of,” Verderame said. “State champs for the first time in 25 years and I’m just happy to have been here.”
Post 72 (28-11) finished second in Zone 3 to Cheshire in the regular season, yet managed to upend Cheshire in the South Division super regional and then sweep Ellington in the best-of-three state finals.
In the Northeast Regional, Southington bounced back from an opening loss to Essex, Vt., and defeated Ellington and Rochester, N.H., to reach the semifinals.
Post 72 did its town — and state — proud this summer, and proved that it belongs in Legion’s upper echelon.
We applaud them.