The Washington County area has grown accustomed to seeing quality baseball teams.
It all starts in the spring with Marietta College. The Pioneers recently won their second consecutive national championship, a Division III-best sixth in the program's storied history. Brian Brewer's club also had two players selected in the MLB draft, in shortstop Tim Saunders and pitcher Austin Blaski.
The Etta Express has been talked about over and over, and deservedly so.
But there is something special going on with head coach Todd Engle's Legion ball team, Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750. The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but when you watch this team, you instantly see the potential.
Beverly/Lowell, which went 6-0 en route to the Athens Baseball Tournament championship this weekend, has posted an overall record of 29-4 this season.
In a sport as crazy as baseball, it is never an easy task to win 29 out of 33 games, no matter what level of competition. And it's not like the team has been squeaking by its opponents, either. In Athens, five of the team's six games were decided by eight or more runs, including scores of 10-0, 17-1, 13-3, and 11-1.
The club certainly seems primed for a run in the state tournament, where it has not faired well in recent seasons. Engle has reason to believe this year could be different.
"We've sort of built our program around pitching and defense," Engle said. "We've been extremely blessed with the kids that have thrown the bulk of the innings. Early on we weren't hitting well, but offensively we're getting better. I like where we're at."
How can you not?
Before Beverly/Lowell entered the tournament Friday, it had six starters hitting above .350, including third baseman Tyler Proctor (.500), catcher Landon Kern (.481), shortstop Jake Ullman (.395), outfielder Ethan Estes (.392), outfielder Clay Ullman (.384), and first baseman Eli Lenington (.364), while infielder Justin Futrell (.371) and outfielder Austin Campbell (.364) have done so off the bench. Second baseman Jordan Satterfield has hit just .250, but is getting on base at .468 clip, good for fourth on the team.
Proctor (4 HRs, 48 RBI), Clay Ullman (32 RBI), and Kern (30 RBI) have paced the team in run production, while lead off hitter Lenington leads the team with 40 runs scored.
On the mound, right hander Kordell Antill (7-0, 1.84 ERA) has been the ace of Engle's four man rotation. Lefty Evan Sawyer (4-0, 1.91 ERA) and right handers Zach Eddy (3-1, 3.23 ERA) and Ben Barnas (5-2, 4.37 ERA) have also given the team quality innings, while right handers Clay Ullman (1.13 ERA) and Dustin Duffy (4.50 ERA) have performed well in relief.
Beverly/Lowell has a lot of proven talent on its roster, as a number of players are either on a college team or going to be on one next year.
Proctor and Clay Ullman are teammates on the Ohio Valley University baseball team, while Kern and Eddy plan to be roommates and play baseball at MC next year.
After beating Bridgeport 17-1 Friday, Engle said "We've got a lot of kids gaining confidence right now. We're really starting to swing the bats."
If Beverly/Lowell is just starting, I can't wait to see the finish.
Jordan Holland is a Marietta Times sports writer and can be reached at 376-5449 or at firstname.lastname@example.org