The field is nearly set for the N.C. State Legion baseball tournament July 29 through Aug. 2 at Cherryvilleâ€™s Fraley Field.
Seven of the eight teams have qualified either by reaching an area championship series or by earning an automatic bid.
The only slot to be filled is that of the Area 1 No. 1 seed, and Garner and Pitt County 39 are currently playing a series to determine that seed. Going into last night, Pitt County had a 1-0 series lead over Garner, which won the state tournament last year but was later stripped of its title for a rules violation.
Only one team from Area One will advance to the state tournament. Cherryville, which was awarded the tournament after no Legion post in Area One made a bid, is the No. 2 team from Area One for seeding purposes.
Cherryville (24-12) will play the winner of the Pitt County-Garner series in the fourth and final game on opening day, July 29.
The tournament has a local flavor with three Area Four teams already locked in: host Cherryville and Area Four playoff finalists Caldwell County and Shelby. Those two teams are currently playing a best-of-five series for the area title.
The rest of the bracket includes Area Three playoff finalists Lexington and Eastern Randolph, and Area Two playoff finalists Morehead City and Scotland County.
Champions from those area finals will go in as No. 1 seeds, and the runners-up will be designated as No. 2 seeds.
Caldwell County, the defending Area Four champion, looms as a favorite to repeat. Post 29 put together a 16-game winning streak this season and was 10-1 in the Area Four playoffs going into game two of its series with Shelby.
According to reports, Pitt County is considered one of the strongest teams in Eastern North Carolina and features players from two state championship high school teams.
Cherryville will have the longest break of any team going into the tournament. Pos 100 was eliminated by Caldwell County Sunday night in the Area Four semifinals and will have an 11-day layoff before playing again.
Post 100 coach Bobby Reynolds resumed practice on Wednesday after a two-day layoff and plans to observe a regular practice schedule leading up to the tournament. Post 100 has no plans to play any games during the layoff, Reynolds said.
Post 100 was to have today off and has scheduled a practice for Saturday morning. The team will also practice every day next leading into Fridayâ€™s opening round.
Right-hander Wayne McDonald (6-1) will start on the mound for Cherryville in the tournament opener. McDonald was undefeated until the Area Four semifinals, where he lost a 7-5 decision to Caldwell County.
Whether Post 100 wins or loses on opening day, lefthander Kyle Snyder (4-1) is the likely starter for Cherryvilleâ€™s second game. The Lincolnton High School product pitched pitched two complete game wins in the Area Four playoffs.
Extra bleachers have been installed down the right field line at Fraley Field to accommodate the anticipated turnout over the tournamentâ€™s five-day run.
Ticket prices are $5 per game or $25 for a tournament pass that gains admission for all 14 or 15 games.
See todayâ€™s scoreboard for the tournamentâ€™s opening day schedule.
by Mike Powell