Legends Gearing Up For Playoff Run
Written By: Jacob Siegel
After a long season of Bay Area Collegiate League and non-league play, the Legends season is finally coming down to a few playoff games. With their 16-7 league record, they have secured a top-three seed in the BACL playoffs and will host their first playoff game on Friday night. Should they win, they will play again in Napa on Saturday for the championship. Although the Legends are gearing up for a playoff run, this is not their first year in the playoffs.
Last summer, the Legends made the playoffs in their first year back as a team, but they lost in their first playoff game. Pitcher Cole Dixon, who is one of a handful of returners on this year’s ballclub, said that “returners from last summer’s team are hungry to advance further this year in the playoffs,” and that there is “definitely excitement around the squad.” The expectations this year are heightened, but the Legends are hot and ready to make a run at the championship.
Before the playoffs begin, it is worth looking back at the Legends’ regular season league play this year and how they earned the right to host on Friday. The Legends began league play back in May, with a home win over the East Bay Thunder. The Legends started the league season 3-0, before a loss to the Vacaville Admirals. The rest of June was a mixed bag, with the Legends having a .500 record from June 11 through the end of the month in league games. At that point in the season, they were sitting around the middle of the BACL standings, with work to do to ensure a high seed in the playoffs.
However, when the Legends needed to turn it on, they did. They went 6-0 in league games in July, scoring double-digit runs four times in that stretch without ever allowing more than six runs. This run pushed the Legends into the top three seeds for the BACL playoffs, giving them a bye on Thursday. Over those seven games, the Legends hit .299 with an .841 OPS. Jaden Mingus, who leads the team with seven runs scored to go along with his four steals, said, “the team has been pretty hot in league, putting it together and getting a lot of wins. I think that will carry into the playoffs this week.”
On the mound, the team had a 2.50 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 54 innings over that stretch. Ari Kligman, who has been exceptional over those six games, throwing six innings without allowing a run, said that the team is “really locking down our pitching going into playoffs and…that will carry us”.
Along with confidence from the players, the coaching staff is filled with excitement as they head into playoffs. Pitching Coach Cole Mauter said, “It is always the hope of any team to be in a position to play the last game of the season,” and that the Legends having a high seed in the playoffs “is a testaments to some good leadership by Coach White and some great individual and collective efforts by the players.” Head Coach Nick White commented, “Going into playoffs this high is a huge accomplishment for us in our second year. This team really got hot in July and pushed us from middle of the pack to the top. Going into playoffs on a heater is a big confidence boost.”
Throughout the season, Legends coaches and players have mentioned the importance of confidence. Pitcher Zak Sullivan said, “confidence is a key factor in success. When you’re confident you play better and it gives you a sense of pride that you’re going to be the best when you get on that field.” The Legends will take their hot July run and their confidence with them to the playoffs this weekend. They begin their playoff run on Friday night, against a team to be determined after Thursday’s BACL playoff games. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. at Baylands Athletic Center in what is sure to be an exciting game!