Northwest talent infusion strengthens Post 115

Justin Seager decided to play American Legion baseball this year to have a good time with his friends while also staying baseball fit.

Seager, who just graduated from Northwest Cabarrus and will be playing at UNC Charlotte next year, is playing Legion baseball for the first time this year.

"It's more relaxed," he said. "I can just come out and have fun with my buddies."

Seager and his Kannapolis Post 115 teammates hope to make a run as the height of the American Legion season rolls around.

"There's been times when we haven't been clicking, but hopefully we'll get it together soon and tear it up," he said.

Post 115 head coach Matt Sack said his team has had a good season, although he admits the group - which was 6-7 (5-5 in the Area III South Division) as of June 17 - struggled earlier in the year.

"We hit a few bumps in the road," he said, explaining that most games have been close. "If we made a few plays here and there, we might have only lost one game overall."

Stack said the team has had good pitching, led by Graham Lawing, who plays at Wilkes Community College after graduating from Northwest Cabarrus last year. Fellow pitchers Zach Jones, a rising senior at Kannapolis, and Kevin Hamilton, who just graduated from Northwest Cabarrus, have also come up big for Post 115.

But the team has to pick it up defensively if they want to make a run. The team has taken some time to come together, especially after having its Northwest Cabarrus players come in later in the season because of their long 3A playoff run.

Stack said that being without the Trojan players hurt the team in its depth - as Post 115 only counted on 12 players before getting seven more from the Trojans.

"When they came, it was a definite boost to help our program," said Stack. "A lot of depth came on the mound for us."

That depth comes in handy during the American Legion schedule, which has teams playing more than four nine-inning games a week - a much more challenging schedule than the twice-a-week, seven-inning games in high school.

Taylor West - a pitcher, outfielder and first baseman for Post 115 - said it took some time for him to get adjusted to Legion play.

"That's definitely been an adjustment for me," said the recent Northwest Cabarrus grad. "But it prepares me for college ball."

Stack said that after a few weeks of playing together, the team has started to bond.

"Hopefully we'll start clicking at the right time," said Stack, explaining that the Legion post-season gets under way next week. "You can't teach chemistry - I'm hoping that we start to gel and play better together."

Stack wants his squad to play hard and leave it all out on the field.

"The winning will take care of itself," he said.

The coach said he's been impressed by the character his players have exhibited.

"We've had some adversity to deal with but have really stepped up," he said. "They're turning into fine young men."

Post 115 has been led offensively by A.L. Brown's Dylan May, who has impressed Stack at the plate - developing into one of the best hitters on the team.

One of the most exciting happenings for Post 115 this season is that they've gotten the chance to play four games at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium, the home of the local minor league team, the Kannapolis Intimidators.

Stack said that it has been a good experience to play in the state-of-the-art facility.

"You're going to play better in a beautiful place like that," he said. "You see what ball is like at the next level, and that really puts a lot of pride in your heart."

West said he's been grateful to get the chance to play at the professional stadium.

"We're really lucky to be able to play there," he said.

Stack said he hopes to continue playing at Fieldcrest Cannon occasionally not only for his team, but also because of the community.

Stack, who took over Post 115 in 2008, played for Post 115 during his high school days at Northwest Cabarrus. After graduating from Clemson, he knew he wanted to get back to legion baseball.

"I told my father when I took my first job at Lexington Senior High School, 'I want to find a way to get back to Kannapolis,'" he said.

"I remember a lot of high school stuff, but Legion is what I cherish - the relationships that you develop in the summertime are second to none."