Area athletes gaining experience on American Legion diamond

This week we check in with the Post 284 Bucs, the second of both teams featuring players from the Village News coverage area that play their home games at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights.

The Bucs are led by Virginia State Head Baseball Coach Merrill Morgan, which for the seniors rising to college and the juniors alike is a valuable experience for things related to playing at the next level.

While the Pirates feature players from Thomas Dale and L.C. Bird exclusively, the Bucs have players from Matoaca, Dinwiddie and Colonial Heights. The five players for Matoaca are all rising college freshman and names that, as a reader, you’ve become familiar with – Rick Spiers (Randolph-Macon), Craig Johnson (Christopher Newport), Grayson and Jamison Trower (University of Maryland-Eastern Shore), and Grant Boyd (King College).

 “These kids [from Matoaca] can play,” said Morgan. “They have a lot of versatility – they can play anywhere.”

Spiers plays the role of renaissance man for the Bucs as he did the Warriors. Playing infield, pitching, catching and playing the outfield.

 “He’s very consistent all over the field,” said Morgan.

Craig Johnson plays third and pitches, while Grant Boyd mans his usual posts of catcher and pitcher. The Trower twins – Jamison and Grayson – man first baseman and the outfield respectively. A player that’s continuously surprised everyone during the regular season and into legion ball is Grayson Trower.

 “He’s really come on as a player,” explained Morgan. “He hadn’t filled out yet and I don’t think he really decided if baseball was his main thing,” he continued. “He can run, throw and hits for power and average.”

Hitting has been the Bucs calling card as many of the players are adjusting to the pitchers that have college experience – and have done so easily. The Bucs are 5-5 as of press time, and in two of their victories, plated a combined 38 runs.

The team is not without talent from places outside of Matoaca- as Dinwiddie shortstop and rising freshman at Patrick Henry Community College Rashad Stewart has delivered big hits. Many of those have been doubles and triples as the lead-off man has great speed.

Perhaps a surprise is Seth Markins of Colonial Heights, a rising high school junior. Markins plays both infield and outfield. Tanner Mitchell of Tidewater Academy has done a great job behind the plate, according to Morgan. In a recent stretch of five games in five days, Mitchell caught four of those games and contributed a home run.

Morgan has a unique perspective as a coach for legion baseball as a college coach. He can scout from within – and after the season is over, invite a player for a workout.

Virginia State has had good success in recent seasons, and features Matoaca alums Tyler Coleman and Zachary Jordan, while Meadowbrook alum Brandon Cooper graduated from VSU this season.

While the 5-5 start is good, Morgan said things can get better, as this week’s games will be the first time he’s blessed with a full roster.

 “During the summer you don’t always have the team you picked,” said Morgan. “With beach week and family vacations, guys are in and out,” continued the head Trojan.

“We’re developing that chemistry and now we’re at full strength.”

Both the Bucs and Pirates continue their legion journeys this week- the two teams face each other on Tuesday at Shepherd Stadium at 7 p.m, results are available on twitter at @VNewsSports.   

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