by nathan oster
The American Legion team based in Greybull capped the season with wins over two of its fiercest rivals, Powell and Cody. In the process, the young Mustangs clinched the win of their season series against the two Park County rivals.
“Those were the two games I wanted to win the most,” manager Curtis Johnson said, adding that the 12-1 win over Powell and the 16-10 win over Cody also extended his team’s winning streak to eight games.
The run ended in the regular season finale Friday night at Legion Field when the Mustangs were corralled by a good Riverton team, 16-1. But Johnson said it didn’t diminish what the team accomplished, recalling the first few games when his team struggled to find its footing.
“I was nervous about the week of the Fourth of July,” he said. “We practiced twice, but then we got almost seven days off in a row. We came back after that, practiced one day and then 10-runned two teams in a row,” said Johnson. “I was pretty proud of the guys. Everyone contributed — bench players and starters. It was a great all-around team effort.”
Johnson said Riverton was “by far the best team we’ve seen all year. They are fundamentally sound, the kind of team you wish you could have played four or five times. But I was proud of the kids. They played them well. It was just a couple of bad innings.
“I think the kids had some butterflies, playing against a new team. There was a little intimidation. They looked better than what we’d seen. Had we played them two or three times, I have no doubt we’d have competed against them a lot better. We hit the ball off their best pitcher.”
The final was 16-1 in Riverton’s favor.
Johnson said he’s looking forward to next season. “With the younger kids, now they have got a year under their belts. There are a couple coming up that we know are going to contribute. We are hoping that we can compete as a Greybull team next year at the state tournament.”
Avery Swiftney, Blake Mautz and Sam Crouse are the only 15-year-olds on the team, but Johnson said the beauty of the team playing American Legion ball is that those three will be able to play on the team again next year, if they want.