It’s been a few weeks since Charleston Post 166’s American Legion baseball team bowed out of the postseason with a 3-1 series loss to Sumter Post 15 by a total of six runs.
Post 166 was close to making the state’s final four.
Coach David Horton has already begun to put together next year’s team in his head. He envisions a bit deeper run next summer.
“Every single player on our roster was better in July than when we started in mid-May,” Horton said. “As a coach that’s what you want, steady improvement. I believe 15 are eligible to return next year, with several other good players who have already expressed an interest in trying out. I really think we can be even better next year, with many veterans mixed in with some really young talent.”
Post 166 had its season-ending banquet on Saturday and handed out player awards.
Designated hitter Blake Marrs was offensive most valuable player while catcher Travis Lott earned the defensive MVP award. John Shelton was the pitching MVP.
Ben O’Brien and Josh Davis grabbed coaches awards.
Post 166 (14-10) won its second consecutive league title and sixth since 2011. The club advanced to the third round of the playoffs and almost into the state’s final four before being bounced by a state power.
Florence Post 1 knocked out Charleston in 2018. In 2017, Post 166 placed fourth in the league and lost in the opening round of the playoffs.
“This program has gotten better each of the last three years,” Horton said. “It’s a great brand of baseball, with many competitive teams. I really hope that other great players in our area will come out next May and see what we have already seen, that this is good, high-level baseball. I think with the talent that is available we could compete with anyone in American Legion Baseball and set a goal of winning a state championship.”
A climb to the top tier of South Carolina’s legion programs could get significantly easier with more community support, Horton believes.
“These guys would love to play in front of packed stands,” he said.
For away games, Post 166 has received some assistance from Stokes Honda North general manager Joe Dettrey. They’ve been able to use a pair of Honda Odyssey passenger vans for all travel the last two seasons, Horton said.
“I would like to thank them for their support the last two seasons with transportation needs for our team,” Horton said. “That has been a huge help getting our players to and from away games. I would really like to partner with other businesses in our area that could help us in the area of sponsorships.”
Horton can be contacted directly at (803) 468-6334.
It’s no secret legion teams have to work around player’s schedules, too. Some have to work. Some are also involved with travel baseball, others high school football. And then there are vacations to contend with.
“It will take a level of commitment from the players that will match or exceed mine as the head coach,” Horton said. “I am fully committed to getting this program to the top. Like I have said to my players many times the last three seasons, it’s not about building a team. It’s about building a program. Teams come and go but a program is here to stay and is driven toward continued success.”
The 2019 squad was comprised of players from Stratford, Goose Creek and Cane Bay high schools along with Bishop England and Northwood Academy. With no other legion program in the Lowcountry, Post 166 could pull from other Charleston-area schools like it did in 2018 when players from Summerville and Ashley Ridge suited up with players from Cane Bay and Stratford.