Junior Legion state tourney starts today

SHERIDAN — One week after solidifying a spot in the Junior American Legion State Tournament with a second-place finish at the Zone 4 tournament, Sheridan is back at it this week, hosting the season finale at Oliver Williams Field.

The Yellowjackets (22-12) open play at 7:30 p.m. today against defending state champion Jonesboro Fat City (27-6).

“They run-ruled every opponent in the zone tournament up there,” Sheridan High School coach and summer-league coordinator Mike Moore said. “They won it all last year and it looks like they are loaded up again.”

Moore said he was unfamiliar with the level of competition in that zone but was aware of what Sheridan was capable of.

“I think we have played very well this year,” Moore said. “And we are probably playing the best ball of the summer right now. I think the guys are confident going in after playing very tough down the stretch.”

Sheridan fared well in the zone tournament last week after hosting the event. The Jackets were assured a spot as an automatic qualifier for being the host team for state, but didn’t need the bid finishing as one of the top two teams in the event.

Texarkana took top honors in the double-elimination format that allowed three teams to emerge into state. Genoa, which finished third, will open play 2:30 p.m. today against Jacksonville. Jonesboro Armor and Texarkana will get the event started at noon today while Cabot will square off against Paragould at 5 p.m.

Sheridan coach Matthew Weigand said the Jackets were prepared.

“We have a tough task right out of the gate,” he said. “But we have been on a heck of a run. We played well in zones. We just ran out of gas there at the end. But this is a tough group of guys. They are going to play hard.”

Sheridan went 5-2 during the zone tournament in a span of seven days and with some time to rest arms from the event, Weigand said he has a pitching rotation set.

Keaton Ramsey is expected to get the start in Game 1 against Fat City while John Strange is slated for Game 2 and Garrett Williams is in line for Game 3.

Weigand will also rely on Sheridan’s high-octane offense, led by Brady Bibb, Tadd Daggett, Chase Davis and Lathan Wylie at the top of the order. Evan Thompson, Paul Lucas, Williams and Strange fill the middle while Joe Eggburn, Ramsey, Seth Strange, Gunner McGathey, Blake Branstetter and Renner Smith round out the lineup.

“If we play like we did in zones, we should fare well,” Weigand said. “We are not going to wow you. But I hope that makes teams look over us because we are going to give you everything we’ve got.”