Stan Bagley hopes to continue the strong first-year performance of his Cumberland Post 32 Bombers in the upcoming American Legion state softball tournament scheduled to begin Monday in Shelby.
Cumberland, 12-2, will take on Alamance Post 63 in a 4:30 p.m. game at Cleveland Community College. The winner will be the Lady Legion softball Eastern state champion and move on in the winner’s bracket of the tournament. The loser will also be alive but will drop into the loser’s bracket.
Other teams in the field are Caldwell Post 392, Davidson Post 8 and the host team, Shelby Post 82.
Bagley’s Cumberland team is made up mostly of players from Gray’s Creek High School, but also includes players from South View, Pine Forest and Riverside Christian.
Under the current rules for American Legion softball in North Carolina, Bagley is allowed to pull from any school in Cumberland County.
He wasn’t surprised by the success his team has enjoyed so far this season. “The talent in this area is phenomenal,’’ he said. “I
think there are five girls that were on the first Dixie Youth World Series team out of Hope Mills on this team.’’
As with Cumberland County’s only American Legion baseball team, the Hope Mills Boosters, Bagley said his biggest problem this season was having enough players available to remain competitive. Many girls on the team take part in showcase softball and had to miss Legion games because of those commitments.
For weekend games, Bagley said his roster would often thin to 10 to 12 players from a maximum of 18. “We were fortunate we had enough talent that didn’t play showcase ball,’’ he said.
Offensive leaders include McKenzie Mason of Riverside Christian and Jaden Pone of Gray’s Creek.
Pone has a .708 batting average and leads the team in RBIs with 14. Mason has a .714 batting average to lead the team.
Leading the way on the mound are Bagley’s daughter, Madi, and Lexi Glemaker. Bagley is from Gray’s Creek and Glemaker attended South View Middle School last season.
Bagley has a 7-1 record with 53 strikeouts in 46 innings and a 2.59 earned run average. Glemaker is 5-0 with 21 strikeouts in 20.2 innings and a 3.05 earned run average.
Coach Bagley’s main concern heading into the state tournament is the experience advantage the Western teams will have over the Cumberland squad.
“I think talent-wise we’ll match up, but those girls have been playing together,’’ Bagley said of the Western entries. American Legion softball started in the Western part of North Carolina and has only recently made inroads in this part of the state.“We’ve knocked off some older teams this year, but that bond is huge when it gets to crunch time,’’ Bagley said.
Bagley said Cumberland will need to continue its solid hitting and take advantage of the speed at the top of its lineup. “Our speed makes a lot of defenses uncomfortable,’’ he said.
Top picture: Front row l-r: Megan Cygan, Casey Dees, Catie McGrath, Summer Powell, Emma Cobb, Sarah Edge.
Middle row l-r: Becca Collins, Korie St. Peter, Madi Bagley, Carey Dees, Courtney Cygan, Alex Daville, Alyssa Norton.
Back row l-r: Coach Amy Dombrowski, Coach Stan Bagley.
NOT PICTURED: Ashton Fields, Kenzie Mason, Jaden Pone, Lexi Glemaker.
Bottom picture: Jaden Pone