Fort Smith Sportsman Seeks to Defend U.S. State Legion Title
Coach Trey Prieur said his Fort Smith athlete looks set to race for back-to-back American Legion AAA state baseball titles.
The sportsman (18-11) opened his state title defense at 12:30 p.m. today during the 10-team tournament on the University of Central Arkansas campus.
“We lost our last two baseball games, but I wasn’t really worried about the outcome because I think the process of getting some guys to figure out what’s going to take has become obvious now,” said Prieur. “I’m really looking forward to being in this state tournament and putting this team on the field and seeing what we can do.”
Four players return from last year’s state title squad, including corner infielder Dakota Peters, who has pitched a hot bat lately after a slow start. That’s a good thing for the Sportsman’s state title chances, Prieur said.
“We’ve had some ups and downs with our attack this year,” said Prieur. “Right now the guys we want are doing well. Dakota, we’ll need him to help us carry us. I think we’re starting to set up some things offensively where we can be tough from one to nine in the lineup.
The Sportsman may not have an ace in the pitching staff, but they have several arms capable of giving them a shot at succeeding, Prieur said.
“Alma’s Logan Taylor started well and got us into a lot of football games,” said Prieur. “He’s destabilizing teams. Northside’s Steffan Fak hasn’t been lucky, but we think his business is good. Jaxon McItyre is another from Sallisaw who has good velocity.”
Receiver Tanner Callahan is another Sportsman with championship experience. As well as helping the Sportsman win a title, he also helped Van Buren win a high school state championship in the spring. Kent Carlisle and Logan Bolin, another Sallisaw wide receiver, were also part of the Sportsman’s title race last season.
These players are excited for the opportunity to defend their title, said Prieur. But he also reminded them that it would be far from easy.
“I think they think about it [defending the title], I know a few of them do, ”said Prieur. “I reminded them that we will have a target on our backs.
“We are looking forward to this challenge and to go out there and compete.”
Prieur also likes the fact that seven other players grew up in the Sportsman program and understand the expected standards. The Sportsman’s Legion junior team finished third in the state tournament earlier this week.
“It’s really good to see guys working through the process and seeing their growth,” said Prieur.
Prieur has only seen four of the other nine teams in the squad this season, so he was forced to call other coaches for information on teams from other parts of the state.
“We saw Russellville, Texarkana, Bryant and Sheridan,” Prior said. “It’s a classic year where I think everyone is watching Bryant. But we open with El Dorado and then, if we had the chance to win, we would see Batesville – the two teams that we don’t know much about.
“We’ll just have to go out and try to play to the best of our ability.”
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American Legion AAA State Tournament
At the University of Central Arkansas, Conway
Game 1: Bryant v Sheridan, 10 a.m.
Game 2: Fort Smith Sportsman vs. El Dorado, 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: Paragould vs Russellville, 3 p.m.
Game 4: Cabot vs. Mountain Home, 5:30 p.m.
Match 5: Batesville vs. Winner of Game 2, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Texarkana vs winner of game 3, 12:30 p.m.
Game 7: Loser of game 1 vs. loser of game 3, 3 p.m.
Game 8: Loser of game 2 vs. loser of game 4, 5:30 p.m.
Game 9: Winner of game 7 against loser of game 5, noon.
Game 10: Winner of game 8 vs. loser of game 6, 2:30 p.m.
Game 11: Winner of game 1 vs. Game winner 5, 5 p.m.
Game 12: Winner of game 4 vs. Game Winner 6, 7:30 p.m.
Game 13: loser of game 11 vs winner of game 10, 10 a.m.
Game 14: Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 9, 12:30 p.m.
Game 15: Winner of game 11 vs. winner of game 12, 3 p.m.
Game 16: Winner of game 13 vs. winner of game 14, 5:30 p.m.
Game 17: loser of game 15 vs winner of game 16, 3 p.m.
Game 18: Winner of game 15 vs. Game winner 17, 6 p.m. *
- The final match will be played on Wednesday at 3 p.m. if necessary.