By RYAN HERMAN
The Lincoln County Cardinals have a tough task ahead in winning the American Legion N.C. state tournament, but there’s no doubt they can do it.
Post 455 (20-14) is making its inaugural trip to the eight-team double-elimination event, held this year in Wilson. And while the Cardinals have nothing historical to go on, all they’ve done is rewrite the history books up to this point.
Lincoln County opens the tournament today against, in my opinion, the second best team in the field in Area III champion Randolph County Post 45. If the Cardinals can get past Post 45 (31-5), which went 11-0 in the Area III playoffs, they most likely get the fortune of facing defending state champion and one-loss Wilmington Post 10, which is vying for a state-record 10th title, on Saturday.
Lincoln County has already shown it has what it takes to beat –– or at least hang –– with the best. The Cardinals overcame a Cherryville Post 100 rally to knock off the six-time defending Area IV champion in the semifinals. Had it not been for one bad inning in which it committed three errors that led to two runs against Shelby Post 82, Post 455 could have easily won its first Area IV championship on Monday. It lost 4-2 instead.
Bottom line is, Lincoln County, which had never won a semifinal game before this season, has shown it can play with the best.
The state tournament is made up of eight teams, seven which had to earn their ticket to the dance (host team Wilson Post 13 qualified by default), and Post 455 is one of them.
With the way it has come together and played baseball since the beginning of July, there’s no reason to think Lincoln County can’t keep going.
There’s no doubt about it –– the Cardinals are one of the seven best teams in the state. They’ve earned the right to be in Wilson. They can also earn their first state title while in town.