North Xtra: Springdale Legion rises as a contender in Allegheny East

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It is common in American Legion baseball for a team to be formed by players from multiple schools.

That is one of the fun parts about playing Legion ball.

For the Springdale Legion team, its players have been picked from Fox Chapel Area and Springdale high schools for as long as manager Frank Sweeney can remember.

Although the two schools are on two totally different ends of the spectrum -- Fox Chapel competes in Class AAAA and Springdale in Class A -- the players have had no problem competing as one.

"It is good," Sweeney said, who is in his 27th season as manager of the Springdale Legion team. "We have no problem with it. Fox Chapel and Springdale have been together on this team for a long time.

"There aren't many teams that don't combine [players from at least a couple] high schools. There is nothing to it. The kids get along. They know they are going to play together."

The two schools also had two different seasons play out on their varsity teams. The Foxes (8-10, 3-7) missed the WPIAL playoffs by finishing fifth in the tough Class AAAA Section 1.

On the other hand, the Dynamos (9-8, 8-2) were section co-champs with Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in Class A Section 1 but had a short playoff experience, losing, 10-2, to WPIAL runner-up Carmichaels in the first round.

With those seasons in the past, the two have combined to start 2-1 in a league Sweeney deems more challenging than high school.

"It is a step up from high school," Sweeney said. "You have [some] kids who have one year of college experience. We have some college kids."

Springdale began the season on a sour note, losing, 6-1, to Monroeville but has righted the ship winning its next two games, 4-0, against North Allegheny and, 10-7, against Shaler.

Morgan Dively pitched in two of the three games to this point, losing to Monroeville and picking up the win against Shaler.

Like the rest of the league, Springdale's schedule will be filled with makeup dates after having three games rained out last week.

"It is going to be tough with all these makeups," Sweeney said. "Some teams have five rainouts already."

Springdale is looking to repeat last year's success and take it another step further after it won the league title but went 0-2 in the Region 6 tournament at Blackhawk High School. A big reason for the quick exit was simply a lack of players.

"We are trying to get back to regionals and further," Sweeney said. "There are only so many teams out of Allegheny County that go to regionals. They only take four teams.

"We went 0-2 in regionals. We had kids who went on vacation and we only had 10 kids going into regionals. It was a shame."

At the beginning of the season, Sweeney made sure if he had the same outcome this year it wouldn't be because of a lack of personnel.

"We never had this problem until the last couple of years," Sweeney said.

"I won't take on players who go on vacation anymore. I need to prepare for a long playoff run and I want to make sure the kids are here to play. The parents know that."

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