Two former baseball standouts, maybe a third, will play for Post 47Legion baseball returns to county for first time since 1952
Rob Howard and Matthew Stratton had outstanding prep careers on the baseball diamond at Tuscola High School for manager Caleb McConnell before moving on to the collegiate ranks.
Now the pair are going to suit up for the Haywood County American Legion Post 47 Dragoons baseball team this summer.
Howard is a freshman pitcher/outfielder at Appalachian State and has appeared in five games on the mound for the 20-11 Mountaineers. He has a 3.86 ERA.
Stratton, who was a three-year starter as a catcher and infielder at Tuscola, started his college career at Catawba Valley Community College but left the program in January. He is attempting to resurrect his baseball career.
In addition to Howard and Stratton, a third college player and former Tuscola High standout may play for the Haywood County Post 47 Dragoons. UNC Asheville freshman infielder Justin Woods, who was committed to play summer baseball in Maryland, may opt to instead play for his former skipper and the Dragoons.
“He is weighing the option to play for the Dragoons or in Maryland,” said McConnell, Post 47’s manager. “I would love to have him play for me this summer but I want the best for him. Whatever he decides, I’m happy for him. We should know Woods’ decision by Friday.”
Woods has started 20 of the 24 games for the 12-26 Bulldogs and is sporting a .309 (25-for-81) batting average with five doubles, a triple and 15 RBI.
“Getting Howard and Stratton to return home this summer to play for us just made us a much better baseball team,” said McConnell. “If Woods joins the Dragoons, with the players we have already secured from the high school ranks, we become a stronger and more competitive baseball team.”
As of Monday, McConnell has filled 11 of the 18 Post 47 roster spots with seven local confirmations to play and two WNC standouts.
Playing for the Dragoons this summer in addition to Howard and Stratton are Pisgah’s Thomas Tatham, Mason Fox, Nathan Summey, Garrett Holland, Tuscola’s Forrest Kerslake, Neil Peterson, Lucas Ledford, Smoky Mountain’s Mark Thompson and Jordan Couch.
McConnell is expected to have decisions from Woods, a Swain County slugger and two, possibly three players from No.-1 ranked Hayesville’s by the end of the week.
The Post 47 Dragoons open the 2013 American Legion season hosting Henderson County at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22 at the Tuscola baseball Complex.