Hastings Five Points Bank coach Kevin Asher says his team isn’t content just to host this year’s American Legion Mid-South Regional.
His squad intends to make some noise at the eight-team event.
“We’ll be playing on our home field,’’ Asher said. “We want to defend it the best we can.’’
Hastings will get that chance Wednesday when the eight-team regional begins first-round play at Duncan Field. Five Points will play the late game at 7 p.m. against the Arkansas state champion.
Though Hastings knew all summer that it would be part of the regional, Asher said it was important that his team play well to be a strong regional representative. Five Points has done that, posting a 32-13 record.
“It’s been a good summer for us,’’ he said. “We’ve played solid baseball, and we’re ready to see how we stack up against these other quality teams coming to town.’’
Hastings began the postseason on a positive note, winning its area tournament for the first time since 1992.
Asher’s team moved on to the eight-team American Division tourney at Omaha Creighton Prep. Hastings won its opener 5-1 against Millard South before losing to eventual state champion Fremont (3-2 in eight innings) and Elkhorn South (11-7).
After being eliminated at state, Hastings turned its attention to preparation for regionals.
“It was tough mentally this season, because our guys knew we were going to regionals, no matter what,’’ Asher said. “We just tried to take each game one at a time, and that helped us stay focused.’’
A team batting average of .316 and a team ERA of 2.62 were a big part of that winning equation.
Hastings’ offense is led by second baseman Mason Brumbaugh and center fielder Ashton Valentine. Brumbaugh has a team-high .412 average, while Valentine is batting .403 and leads the team in hits (52) and runs scored (43).
Left fielder Josh Brooks has a team-leading 35 RBIs, and catcher JT Cafferty has 30. Shortstop Gabe Conant is batting .315 and is second in runs scored with 37.
The pitching staff has been anchored by CJ Remmenga and Tyson Gatto. Remmenga is 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA while Gatto is 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA.
Hastings also will have a healthy Mike Boeve back in the lineup for regionals. The UNO recruit missed most of the summer season with a stress fracture in his left shoulder.
He batted .360 and was 4-0 on the mound during the spring varsity season for Hastings, which finished as the Class B runner-up. He played in just six games this summer, batting .389.
Asher said the city of Hastings is proud to be hosting the regional at historic Duncan Field, which opened in 1941. The field has been the site of four Legion World Series, most recently in 1969.
“There’s been a ton of work done the past 18 months to prepare for this,’’ Asher said. “The support of the community has been great, and we’re looking forward to an outstanding tournament.’’
Unlike recent years, the Nebraska teams will be competing in the Mid-South Regional and not the Central Plains Regional. The states represented in the Mid-South are Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.
The Central Plains Regional consists of teams from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“The addition of those Southern teams helps raise the ‘wow’ factor,’’ Asher said. “Those states are powerhouses at the college level, so we’ll see what they have at this level.’’
The eight regional champions advance to the Legion World Series that begins Aug. 15 in Shelby, North Carolina.