The roster of the Crowley Millers American Legion baseball team was already stretched thin because of midseason departures and an assortment of injuries.
Crowley, which finished second to Lafayette’s Delhomme Drillers in district play, was preparing to take part in the start of this weekend’s American Legion state tournament, in which the Millers were scheduled to face Jesuit’s Retif Oil about 6 p.m. Saturday.
However, Crowley coach Corde McCall suffered a pair of unexpected losses to his roster Tuesday, leaving the Millers with only 10 players — two below the requisite number according to American Legion guidelines to participate in the state tournament.
“I felt bad having to call and tell them we were backing out,” McCall said. “It’s disappointing.”
McCall wasn’t certain whether tournament officials would award a bye to Retif Oil or add another team to fill the eight-team bracket that gets underway at 9 a.m. Saturday with Gonzales-based Gauthier & Amedee facing Townsend Homes of LaPlace at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
The double-elimination tournament runs through Wednesday, with the championship game at 4 p.m. All games are scheduled for nine innings.
“It’s tough that our guys can’t go and play,” McCall said.
McCall, an assistant at Notre Dame of Crowley, said he carried as many as 17 players at one point this summer. But his roster, which includes players from Notre Dame, Crowley High, Church Point and Rayne, began to dwindle during the second half of district play.
McCall said the loss of shortstop/pitcher Hunter Keely at the midway point to a dislocated thumb was the start of a downward spiral that included several players leaving the team; there were also more injuries.
Crowley finished second to Delhomme in the district standings with a 4-5 record, qualifying them for the state tournament.
“We came into the summer with a pretty good team,” McCall said. “We had some ups and down. Losing Hunter was a big loss for us.”
McCall said his team was unable to scrimmage last week in what was supposed to be additional preparation for the state tournament because two players suffered severe ankle sprains, another suffered a shoulder injury, and a fourth player was on vacation with his family.
Then came Tuesday’s news Crowley would be without two more of its players when McCall was informed that one player was taking part in a showcase event at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, while another would be at an out-of-state tournament.
“Once you get a couple of kids hurt and then a couple quit, it makes it tough,” McCall said. “I had no idea this was going to happen Tuesday. I thought they would be back to play with us. I told the guys we needed at least 12 and if we couldn’t convince anyone to come back, we would not be able to go. There were some pretty disappointed looks.”