Local rally: mistakes cost pirates against Scotland
PEMBROKE – Jamie Dover grew up playing American Legion baseball in Brunswick County in the 1980s. Almost 40 years later, he was part of a historic American Legion team in Robeson County.
A Robeson County American Legion fastball softball team will play this summer for the first time, scoring the first American Legion baseball or softball team in the county since the old baseball program was played. discontinued after the 2007 season.
“In recent years, the word has come, we are talking about it; there’s a lot to do, but once it starts it’s contagious, and I think we’ll see even more girls playing next year, ”said Dover, who is the head coach of the team. “Someone just had to step forward and start it; we did it.
The Robeson County Post 5 team played their first games on Tuesday at Scotland Post 50, sweeping a doubles program with wins of 9-7 and 10-0. Post 5 has hit five home runs in both games.
The team will play their home games at Purnell Swett High School; their home opener is June 15 against Hoke Post 20.
“Jamie Dover called and was looking for a place to play,” said William Deese, softball coach and athletic director for Purnell Swett. “I am a big fan of softball; I want the girls to have every chance to play, and my girls, I would like them to continue playing Purnell Swett, so I felt obligated to give it to them.
Robeson, Scotland, Hoke and Cumberland Post 32 make up the Area II West conference. Teams will play a 24-game schedule, with teams choosing to play two five-end matches on each match date instead of one seven-end match.
“You get more ball, the girls have the chance to play more,” Dover said. “That’s why we play, it’s to play ball.”
The regular season runs until July 15 before the start of the playoffs; the teams will play for the right to participate in the state tournament held in Shelby in early August.
American Legion baseball dates back to 1925, but American Legion fastpitch softball is more recent, with North Carolina’s first softball season being in 2017.
The team will allow some of the best softball players in Robeson County High School to participate in additional competition during the summer months, which will help their development leading up to next spring’s school season.
“It’s huge. Some girls don’t play travel ball or demo ball on weekends, so for them it’s huge; they get to play a minimum of 25 games, because you get to minus one playoff game, “Dover said.” Those who play on the weekends, the travel / showcase ball, that gives them even more time in the week to see games live. “
“I think it’s going to be important for us,” Deese said. “I know a few years ago I was considering joining the Legion, going to meetings and stuff like that. Last year I thought maybe we were going to try it out, and then obviously COVID happened and I didn’t think about it anymore.
“And then Jamie Dover came over to me, and based on the research I’ve done, it’s the highlight. It’s high time to play. I played Legion ball for the Pembroke Post 205 in its early days and was able to play against some good competition. It’s going to be good, the fact that we’re going to see other teams, other baseball players, and help develop softball in the county, so it’s going to be great for us.
Local high school figures include Chandra Locklear of Purnell Swett, Marijo Wilkes, Torrie Butler, Angelica Locklear and Kaitlyn Locklear, Santana Anderson of Fairmont and Syniah Lancaster of Lumberton.
“We’re trying to get something of community pride; this is our team, let’s rally around our team, this is our county, our team for Robeson County, ”said Dover. “This is the first time that we have one. I told the girls that they would be a part of it forever, being the first girls to play on a (Legion) team.
Ned Stedman of the American Legion Post 5 in St. Pauls helped ensure the team had the required sponsorship of an American Legion post, Dover said. With a roster made up of players from across Robeson County, Dover hopes the whole community will rally around the team.
“Hopefully we can get a big crowd and support the girls,” Dover said. “It’s a great thing, taking out a crowd, getting energy around them, that sort of thing. In addition, these are our Legion, our Veterans and our Legion; there is a commitment that they say before the games, on sportsmanship and team commitment and all that. It is for the right reasons and it is very well done.
The formation of the softball program raises the question of whether Legion baseball’s return to Robeson County could be next. Dover and Deese both see this as a strong possibility.
“I think it’s in preparation; I just don’t know how it’s going to play out just yet, ”said Deese, who coached the County Legion baseball team before his hiatus.
” I think so ; I think the more attention the better, ”Dover said. “There are probably people who, once they see what they’re doing and what it’s all about, will regret not getting involved this year, but there are definitely open arms for them there. ‘next year. Hopefully by doing this it opens the door.
Regardless, the Post 5 softball team looks forward to a great season and hopes to grow as their inaugural campaign and beyond.
“I’m just excited to stand in front of our community and give our girls a chance to play, and the people involved are really excited,” Dover said. “I think more people will come and watch us, they will be excited, we will have more energy and it will be bigger and better next year.”