Experience accompanied by both pitching and batting lineup depth should make the Williamsburg Post 39 American Legion baseball team a strong threat to return to the state tournament this summer after being knocked out in the District 3 tournament phase last season.
The Wildflowers are off to a 2-0 start with an 8-5 win last week over Deltaville followed by a 10-5 victory Thursday at Poquoson.
Each was a district win for Post 39, which features players from each Williamsburg-James City County high school as well as New Kent High, Walsingham Academy, and former Bruton standout Zach Calloway.
As the first two scores indicate, second-year Post 39 manager Doug Mitchell expects tight battles in district play, and few lopsided affairs.
The Post 39 roster does not feature any NCAA players, as has been the norm in the past, but the Wildflowers welcomed back several players like Calloway who graduated in the last year or two.
Mitchell said, "These guys that are coming back: Brad Vandygriff, Matt Lansford, Christian Hamby, Zach Calloway, and Adam Slyter – those guys I'm really looking for to lead the team, taking the leadership role not only from the bench, but also in play. All those guys are going to play a key part all the way around."
Slyter and Vandygriff, a Jamestown graduate, will be among Mitchell's top pitchers after Slyter came on strong for the Eagles down the stretch in their run to the Virginia High School League Group 4A East Region semifinals.
Warhill representatives Ryan Creecy, Blake Sawyer and Sam Rochard round out the pitching stable along with New Kent graduates Wyatt Delong and Mitchell Metheney.
"We have plenty of arms," Mitchell said. "Hopefully we can throw some strikes. Pitching-wise, we look pretty good."
Jamestown's starting catcher, Kevin Mooney, will also be a vital player for Post 39, on the field and mound, and at the plate.
Mooney threw the final five innings Thursday at Poquoson in relief of Slyter while notching a pair of hits and RBIs.
"Coming in with his stick and experience behind the plate, he's going to play a big role," Mitchell said of Mooney.
Mooney's bat will be one of many to watch along with that of Post 39 veteran Lansford (shortstop), Slyter (outfield/pitcher), Blake Sawyer (first base), Riley Motley (second base), Ethan Currin (catcher), Hamby (third base), and Calloway.
Hamby, a New Kent graduate, led the team with three hits on Thursday and Motley, a rising Warhill sophomore, also had a pair of RBIs.
"These kids are gelling tighter as a unit quicker than they have in years past," Mitchell said. "We have a great hitting team. We have the pitching depth. I don't think there's going to be a whole lot that's going to be able to stop us as long as we stay healthy."
Wyatt Delong (New Kent), Mitchell Metheney (New Kent), Christian Hamby (New Kent), Adam Slyter (Jamestown), Kevin Mooney (Jamestown), Matt Lansford (Jamestown), Ryan Creecy (Warhill), Brad Vandygriff (Jamestown), Sam Rochard (Warhill), Ethan Currin (Warhill), Riley Motley (Warhill), Blake Sawyer (Warhill), Zach Calloway (Bruton), Tim Gillen (Lafayette), Christian Carter (Walsingham Academy).
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.