The Lowcountry's American Legion baseball teams have thinned in recent years, and Beaufort Ospreys coach Mike Smith has been left to scramble to fill his schedule.
Post 9/207 opens the season tonight at Beaufort High School against the Lowcountry Heat. The Heat, Ospreys and Goose Creek make up the only teams out of League 1, which included five teams in 2013 and six teams the year before that.
To ensure enough competition, Smith added games with Manning and Lake City and might add games with Georgetown and some travel teams. He was still making calls this week trying to fill in dates.
As it stands, each of the three league teams will play each other four times, for eight league games.
Smith said travel ball might have kept the other perennial Legion teams -- Moncks Corner, Summerville and West Ashley -- from forming a squad this year. He found that other Legion teams in the state play a full schedule during the week, including weekends, to discourage travel ball.
Teams in the Myrtle Beach area can play teams across the border in North Carolina, Smith said, an option not available with Savannah.
"If it's going to survive here, I think that's what's going to have to happen," Smith said of the extended schedule. "We're going to have to get funding and all that to make these out-of-town trips and have enough games that these guys feel like they're being seen statewide."
All of the League 1 teams will go to the state playoffs but will fight for seeding during the regular season.
Ospreys pitcher Thomas Smith is back from USC Salkehatchie. The former Battery Creek pitcher should anchor the staff, Smith said.
Former Beaufort High standout David Tilton is back from Erskine. And Eagles pitcher Carson Gregory, who will play at Winthrop in the fall, has opted to play Legion this summer.
Smith said he is excited about Rome Wallace and Brice Adkins, who play Beaufort High junior varsity and has added depth with guys who play at Whale Branch Early College High School.
Wallace is expected to play center field and bat leadoff. Adkins will see some time at catcher with returner Andrew Jezewski.
"They have done nothing but good things since they've been out here," Smith said. "They're going to help us immensely this year."
Smith thinks he will have enough players to avoid forfeits should vacations or other commitments keep players away certain games.
"The key thing is stay away from injuries," he said. "If I can take this group all the way through the season, I promise we can make some noise down the road."
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.
American Legion baseball opener
Who: Lowcountry Heat at Beaufort Ospreys
Where: Beaufort High School
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
2014 Beaufort Ospreys Schedule
Home games in CAPS, all games 7 p.m.
May 29 LOWCOUNTRY HEAT
June 2 at Goose Creek
June 5 at Heat
June 9 GOOSE CREEK
June 10 at Lake City
June 12 HEAT
June 17 at Goose Creek
June 24 at Heat
June 26 GOOSE CREEK
July 1 at Manning
July 3 MANNING
2014 Beaufort Ospreys Roster
8 Braylon Harrison
3 Jordan Wright
30 Andrew Jezewski
15 Carson Gregory
11 Mattison Pike
19 Tim Campbell
4 Rome Wallace
16 Marshall Daise
1 Liam Dalbow
2 Brice Adkins
14 Jesse Sanborn
18 David Tilton
5 Thomas Smith
Coach: Mike Smith