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Champions aren't made in the gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision.

 

 


 

 Three Legion Teams Battle for Top Spot

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By Paul Schofield
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, July 3, 2008
 

The District 31 American Legion baseball playoffs are scheduled to begin in one week, and the race for the top spot in the Southern Division has heated up.

Hempfield East, Latrobe and West Hempfield are the teams vying for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
 

Hempfield East (11-2) holds a half-game lead over Latrobe (10-2) heading into today's games. Hempfield East is scheduled to play Greensburg at Greensburg Salem High School, while Latrobe is off before playing six games in five days, beginning with a game at 1 p.m. Friday against rival Derry.
 

Latrobe is scheduled to play West Hempfield (9-4) on Saturday and Monday, and will have a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Sunday against Hempfield East at Hempfield Area High School.  "It's going to get real interesting this weekend," Latrobe coach Jason Bush said. "We knew this stretch would determine the top spot and seeding.
 

"Hempfield East, West Hempfield and Latrobe typically have been the strongest teams. Hempfield and Latrobe had the top teams in high school. The players were aware of the challenge and they accepted it."
 

West Hempfield, which defeated Latrobe, 12-1, on Tuesday, suffered a tough loss to Unity, 4-2, on Wednesday. The loss kept them two games behind Latrobe. "We just didn't play well," West Hempfield coach Bob Stokes said. "We beat Latrobe and then came to Unity with no energy."
 

Stokes seemed relieved when he found out that his team had virtually clinched a spot in the playoffs. The top four teams will make the postseason. Greensburg (6-7), Unity (5-11), Derry (3-9) and Mt. Pleasant (3-11) are battling for the final spot. Greensburg is in the best position. "We're shooting for a higher seed," Stokes said. "But I'd rather lose my seed so I can set up my pitching staff for the playoffs."
 

Greensburg, which is trying to hold on to the final spot, will play Hempfield East three times and West Hempfield and Mt. Pleasant once. In the Northern Division, Kiski (11-0) is first, followed by Valley (7-5-1), Murrysville (4-4), Jeannette (4-6-1), Irwin (3-5) and Burrell (0-9).

District 31 president Doug Walker said it's highly unlikely he will extend the season past the final playing date Tuesday. The playoffs meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, and the postseason will start on July 10.
 

"We've already shortened the season for the teams," Walker said. "The Northern Division only had to play 15 games this summer, and I don't understand why teams are having problems getting games in. If they don't have them all in, they won't make the playoffs."

The Westmoreland Junior Legion playoffs are in the pigtail round. West Hempfield is scheduled to play Hempfield East at 6 p.m. today at Hempfield Area High School. The winner of that game will play at Penn Township on Friday. Elizabeth, the Southern Division champion, Greensburg and Irwin PAL await the completion of the pigtail round.
 

Paul Schofield can be reached at pschofield@tribweb.com or 724-853-2109.