After doubts as to whether they would or not, Post 455 fielded an American Legion baseball team last season.
That was, perhaps, a highlight. The Denver-based team finished 2-14 on the summer, with the brightest spot being an upset of perennial powerhouse Cherryville Post 100.
While the season wasnâ€™t stellar from a team standpoint, Colby Burgin was nothing short of spectacular.
Burgin, entering his third-year of legion baseball, finished four points shy of batting .400. He also was credited with one pitching victory.
The former Lincolnton Wolve spent this past baseball season redshirted at Wilkes Community College. He and Brandan Jones, who saw limited playing time at Southern Wesleyan University, bring college experience to the still young club.
Alex Loftin, also in his third year, will join Burgin to form a formidable infield duo at shortstop and second base.
â€œThey should provide leadership with their experience and offensive and defensive abilities,â€ Post 455 head coach Bruce Bolick said.
Shane Brackett will man third base while Matt Kuster and Dustin Hester are both likely to see time at first.
Hester turned in one of the top defensive plays of the prep season. In the Easter Tournament, with the bases loaded and the Rebelsâ€™ clinging to the lead, Hester made a spectacular, fully-extended over-the-shoulder- catch to allow West Lincoln to hold on for the first-round win.
Loftin and Will Fox return to the mix, after tying for the second highest batting average last season at .320.
â€œWe expect them to be a large part of the offense,â€ Bolick said.
Also expected to contribute at the plate are Matt Kuster, Trent Hovis.
On the mound, Post 455 will have a nice mix of right-handers and southpaws. Mitchell Lynch, Dustin Weaver and Jones give Denver three solid left-handers and also allow more flexibility when it comes to match-ups.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a lot more depth than we had last year. We have three lefties, so maybe we can match up a little bit,â€ Bolick said.
The right-handers consist of Seth Alexander, Aaron Price and Loftin. Alexander, who is coming off the heels of a standout senior campaign, will be looked to be used in a starterâ€™s capacity.
While Loftin, who closed for North Lincoln this season, and Price will help bolster the teamâ€™s bullpen.
Bolick is expected to experiment, pitching two or three pitchers a game for the first several games of the season.
Being the youngest team in the area has one advantageâ€”not having to rebuild for the next year. Denver is no exception, returning seven starters.
Brent Gates and Brandon Scott are the only players the squad lost.
Two strong points in Bolickâ€™s eyes will be the overall team speed and their defensive outfield.
Weaver, Jones and Kyle Baker are all consistent performers in the outfield with the ability to make the highlight reel catch any given day.
â€œAll of them are center- field type players. They can really go get it,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™ve all played center field at one time or another and have played pretty dern well.â€
Bolick knows the season wonâ€™t be easy because of the competition theyâ€™ll face night-in-and-night-out, but heâ€™s looking forward to it.
â€œItâ€™s a very tough league. If a kid wants to prove his ablity to play baseball, then this is the league to do it,â€ Bolick said. â€œThis area is the hot bed of American Legion baseball.
â€œWeâ€™ll be improved and of course weâ€™re shooting to get back into the playoffs,â€ he said.
by John Mark Brooks