Head coach Parker McKinley said he doesn’t know much about the opponents the La Grande Legacy Ford Legends will face as the team begins the American Legion state tournament Saturday night in Roseburg.
But he knows that the programs — including the Roseburg Pepsi Bottlecaps, which is La Grande’s first opponent — seem to always be at state.
“The teams that are there are teams that consistently find their way back. Roseburg Pepsi is one that is always good,” he said. “North Medford is competitive every year at the 6A level (in high school baseball). Central Point is another one (and) North Bend is always a team right in the mix.
“These are all the teams that are there, and we see them in this tournament year after year.”
La Grande (20-7) is entering state on a seven-game winning streak, including a perfect run at its own wood bat tournament last weekend, which it wrapped up with a 12-2 win over North Eugene.
Pitching and defense — which have become staples of any McKinley-coached team — are again facets of the game the team will need to hang its hat on to be in contention.
“We’ve got several guys who have the potential to be on the mound and go deep into games and give us the chance to win. I feel pretty good about where we’re at with that,” McKinley said. “We’re (also) playing really good defense right now. You put those two things together, I think we can compete with any team down there.”
The team has also been finding ways to win despite being relatively young, which was a surprise to the head coach.
“We’ve had some kids really step up this year. Some of our freshmen-going-to-be-sophomores are attacking the game. It’s been good,” he said.
Infielder Justin Frederick, though, wasn’t shocked by that development.
“This program always has an expectation of winning and doing the best we can,” he said. “It starts with showing up. Everybody needs to come prepared, and everyone does because of what Coach McKinley expects.”
Pitcher and outfielder Parker Robinson said one of the keys for the team is playing at the same level at state, not riding too high or too low.
“We have all the components to win the tournament, but I think the thing that is going to help us win it is consistency,” he said. “In the summer we’ve had great games and then we’ve had mediocre games. We’ve got to find that middle. We show up (and do that), and we’ll give any team a run for their money.”
La Grande plays first in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament Saturday night. The championship game, should the Legends advance, is Wednesday.