DANVILLE — The coronavirus has done something that Mattoon Post 88, Charleston Post 93, Lincoln Post 263 and Rantoul Post 287 hasn’t been able to do in the last five years.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has kept the Danville Post 210 Speakers from extending its string of Fourth Division titles.
A year ago at this time, July 24, 2019 to be exact, Danville was beating Lincoln 3-0 and Mattoon 10-5 to secure its fourth straight title, and the Speakers accomplished the feat winning three straight do-or-die games.
“I’m sure a lot of people didn’t think we could come back and do it,’’ said Danville’s Chase Vinson, who was a member of all four division championship teams, after the victory a year ago. “We never doubted ourselves. We always knew that we could come back and win it.
“Honestly, it means a lot that we were able to come back through the loser’s bracket to win this title.’’
The prospects of Danville winning its fifth straight division title were actually eliminated back in April, but that hasn’t kept the Post 210 family from reminiscing this week on social media.
“We were finally stopped from winning the Division by an opponent that we couldn’t beat,’’ said Danville’s Allan Shepherd, who was the manager for all four division championship teams. “I’m sure teams like Mattoon were gearing up to try and beat us this year.’’
But, it wouldn’t have been Shepherd directing the Post 210 team this year.
“No, I was planning to take a step back and coach the junior team this year,’’ said Shepherd, the general manager for the Post 210 program. “Andy Musson and Rob Ruch were going to be handling the senior team and I would have enjoyed watching those guys try to defend our titles.
“I would have looked forward to seeing those games this year, as a spectator.’’
Instead, the Post 210 program has spent its summer holding weekly workouts at Gruber Park in Tilton.
“I feel terrible for that group of older kids that lost their final summer of baseball,’’ Shepherd said. “But, at the same time, I’m looking forward to the group we have coming up next year and our future teams.’’
And while Shepherd admits the first goal is always that Fourth Division title, he admits that the Post 210 Speakers tradition carries a little more weight after their run from 2016-2019.
“During those four years, we have won three state titles, advance to the Great Lakes Regional all four years and was in the Final Four of the American Legion World Series a year ago,’’ Shepherd said. “We kind of like playing at those big-time levels and we hope that we can continue to reaching those heights.’’
Shepherd pointed out that the Danville Post 210 program will be holding baseball and softball tryouts on Aug. 1 and 2, along with Aug. 8 and 9 at the Gruber Sports Complex in Tilton.
Softball for ages 8 to 18 will hold their tryouts at 10 a.m. on those days, while baseball for ages 8 to 13 will be at 1 p.m. on those days and baseball for ages 14 and up will be at 3:30 p.m. Registration for the open tryouts is 45 minutes before the start time.