The North Coos American Legion baseball team started its long trip to Cody, Wyoming, for the Pacific Northwest regional tournament with a police escort out of North Bend in the early morning daylight Wednesday.
When they get to Wyoming, the players hope to improve on last year’s effort, when they won twice before being eliminated.
“I’m really excited for regionals,” North Coos catcher Ian Spalding said after the Waterfront repeated as state champions last week in Roseburg. “There’s going to be good competition. There’s some great teams that will be going there.
“We’re good. We just have to go do what we do.”
North Coos had stellar pitching and hitting during the state tournament, when it won five games in five days. The Waterfront did lose one game, with a pair of pitchers who saw little time on the mound the past two summers.
In all six games at the tournament, North Coos had at least 11 hits, a number that coach Brad Horning called “crazy.”
And North Coos got contributions throughout the lineup most of those games, spreading the offense out.
The defense also was outstanding all week.
All those elements will need to be present again for North Coos to have success in Wyoming.
Last year, the state champions opened against the host team and fell to Cody 16-3, but bounced back to beat a pair of Idaho teams in elimination games before losing again to Cody 5-2.
This time, North Coos will open against Alaska’s state champion at 3 p.m. (local time) Friday. On Saturday, they will face either Utah or Wyoming, ideally in the winner’s bracket.
North Coos includes players from North Bend, Reedsport and Siuslaw high schools.
The group is a mix of newcomers and returners from last year’s club.
“It’s cool,” said Jacob Chaney, one of the players from Reedsport, who will be making the trip for the first time. “It’s good to play more baseball.”
Brylee Anderson from North Bend is one of a number of kids who are making the trek again.
“It’s a long trip,” he said. “I’m definitely excited to get back there and maybe do a little better this time.”