Millers hit final stretch in district action

CROWLEY – The Crowley Millers are hitting the final stretch in district play and just as it has been the last few seasons, it will be a rough one for the locals.

Due to scheduling conflicts and rainouts, the Millers have eight games in less than two weeks to complete their league slate.

“The American Legion season always seems to be kind of hectic,” said Crowley Millers’ coach Timmy Robichaux. “First of all, everybody is coming out of their high school season just as Legion begins. And, then, you have senior trips and vacations to deal with. Games get postponed and rescheduled and, then, ultimately, at some point, you start hitting all the rain.

“That’s where we are right now. It’s kind of always a Chinese fire drill to try and get all the games played at the back end of the season.”

The Millers have played just four games thus far, beating the Crowley Pios twice while dropping two close games to the Eunice Oilers.

In three of their four games, the Millers have struggled both offensively and defensively. The only game that Robichaux’s squad completely dominated their opponent was their 11-0 victory over the Pioneers in the first game of the summer.

Some of the Millers’ problems can be attributed to lack of time on the field.

Miller Stadium plays host to two Senior American Legion teams that play on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and three Independent teams that play games at the stadium every Monday and Wednesday. That leaves little practice time for any of the teams.

“You know, it’s been hard to get the field for practice with all the teams we have playing and if your (practice) day happens to be a day that it rains, you’re just out of luck,” said Robichaux. “With five teams sharing the stadium over the summer, it does make it tough. If you have a bye one day, it seems like you could go practice but there’s no field to get on because another team has a game.

“In a way, you’re kind of at the mercy of just playing games over the summer versus getting enough practice time.”

But even with the lack of field time, Robichaux feels his squad should be playing better than it has.

“Some of our struggles probably come from not being able to get out there much and practice but I don’t want to make it sound like we’re making excuses,” said Robichaux. “These guys are coming off high school seasons, some are coming back from playing college baseball.

Although there are chances of isolated thunder storms for most of this week, Robichaux is hoping to get a lot of baseball in over the next four days.

The Millers are scheduled to play a doubleheader against the St. Landry Bank Indians (4-1) today with the first game slated for 5 p.m. at Westminster .

Also in the works is a return trip to Westminster Wednesday for a game against the Opelousas General Hospital Seminoles.

The Millers will play a home game against the Crowley Pioneers on Thursday. Robichaux is also attempting to have the Seminoles, who have a bye that day, come down for a makeup game. If that occurs, the first game of the doubleheader would be at 5 p.m.

“It looks like we have a better weather forecast this week so we’re going to try and play as many games as we can get in,” said Robichaux. “We might even have to try and get out there on Saturday.

“It’s always tough to get all your guys there on the weekend, but that might be something we might end up having to do to get all our games in.”

Even if this week’s schedule works out the way Robichaux hopes, the Millers still have two makeup games (one against the Indians and one against the Oilers) left as well as their regular season final at Eunice next Tuesday.

A district champion and a runnerup must be named by Wednesday of next week. The top two teams, and possibly the third-place team, in District 7-East advance to the American Legion Regional Tournament which begins on Friday, July 8, at ULL’s Tigue Moore Field.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” said Robichaux. “It’s going to be a lot of baseball over a short period of time.

“Overall, we just have to play better at the back end right here. We just need to do the things that we need to do to give us a chance to get into the regional.”

The regional tournament, which the Millers won two years ago and placed third in last year, will be an eight-team field if three teams from District 7-East advance.

If that is the case, the Millers are automatically qualified since the Seminoles don’t carry a 12-man roster (12 players are mandatory for postseason play) and the Pioneers are not playing for advancement.

However, Robichaux is not banking on the automatic bid.

“We have to go out there and win some ballgames,” said Robichaux. “It’s not a guarantee that they are taking three teams. We need take care of our business and play our way in.”

The top three teams from the regional advance to the state tournament beginning on July 23 in New Orleans.

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