CLOVER -- After finishing with a disappointing 5-15 record in their inaugural season last year, the Clover American Legion Post 38 baseball team has stepped up to the plate to make sure there won't be a repeat this time around.
Entering this week's play, the team was 3-3 for the season. The ninth through 12th graders have played most of the other teams in the Legion league and believe they are ready to compete with whoever they come up against.
"We've been in every ball game, so I think our confidence is really up this year and I think we're going to finish the season pretty strong," said Clint Medlin, outfielder and pitcher.
The team is comprised of mostly students from Clover, but also some from York, Rock Hill and one from North Carolina.
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"The kids get along well, so I've been real pleased," said Coach Darrell Van Dyke, who is also head coach of Clover High School's baseball team.
One of the strengths of the team this year has been batting.
"The last two or three games we've had close to 15 hits every game, so we're a really good hitting team this year," Medlin said. "I think that's going to be a key for us if we can just keep hitting the baseball."
All of the players compete with their schools during the regular season and this is a good opportunity to keep them in shape and trained, Van Dyke said.
"My feeling is that we can't build a program in Clover playing three months out of the year," he said. "We basically use this as an extended season."
There's usually tougher competition with the Legion games than in schools, Medlin said.
"You have some college players and it just helps you stay in shape and help you work on your skills," he said.
It's also been good getting the experience playing nine-inning games instead of the seven-inning high school games, he said.
"That extra two innings make a big difference for you," he said. "You start getting wore out by the end of the game and just who's the toughest can make it through."
As he looks at the future of the Legion teams, Van Dyke said he's excited that York and Clover both have a junior legion team this year. He hopes the two junior teams could feed into one regular Legion team.
"We feel like we're a year or two away from a having a real strong Legion team," Van Dyke said.
For more information on when and where the Clover Legion team will play, visit www.leaguelineup.com/38p.