BILLINGS - For the third time in four years, the state American Legion AA tournament returns to Billings. The Billings Scarlets are the host of this year's tournament, and as one of the top three teams in the state, they are prepared to make a run at the title.
“We’re now prepared to go into state, so we should have a pretty good run just from working through things in the season,” says Scarlets' third baseman Nathan Mcdonald.
This year has been filled with many ups and downs for the Scarlets, but head coach Adam Hust believes come tourney time, it’s a whole new season.
“You get in, you play hard and play well and everyone has a chance to win. You know that’s your goal, it’s a whole new season starting Wednesday,” said Hust.
While this may be true, having home-field advantage at Dehler Park in Billings and not having to travel for the tournament is something the Scarlets are certainly looking forward to.
“I mean it’s awesome. I like playing at Dehler. You get to be in your locker room, and you just have that home field advantage, and you get a great crowd that always comes out, especially at state,” echoed pitcher Jadyn Averill.
And as they do prepare for state, the Scarlets have most of all been focused on the little things.
“Just like today, we worked on bunting to make sure we got those coverages down. And obviously our hitting, we take a lot of batting practice,” said outfielder Luke Tallman.
This year’s tournament is also a little different than the past few years. It marks the first time in three years there will be a full eight-team bracket.
“You know we had a seven-team bracket the last three years because of Covid restrictions. Now the Canadian teams have passed their restrictions and are able to cross the border," said Hust. “I like the fact that there are eight teams. That just makes everyone have to play by the same set of rules.”
You can catch the Scarlets' first game of the tournament 7 p.m. Wednesday at Dehler Park. They will be capping off the first day of the tournament against the Kalispell Lakers.