The Cary Junior Bulls entered last weekend’s American Legion state tournament as the No. 1 seed and hosted at Athens Drive.
When the Bulls were knocked out of the eight-team tournament after just two games, head coach Troy Strange was surprised, but not deflated.
“The team was extremely balanced all year,” Strange said. “We out-hit both teams we played. We struck out one time in the two games. If you look at it statistically, you would say we would have won without question. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. ... We fall down to learn to pick ourselves back up.”
The Area 1 champions lost the opening round game Friday, 4-1, to Area 3 runner-up Eastern Randolph, and then fell Saturday to Area 4 runner-up Mint Hill, 4-3.
The Bulls went 13-1 in the regular season.
“If you would’ve told me we would be two-and-out, I would’ve told you you were crazy, but sometimes the one little thing happens when you’re at home, when you’re in your own bed and with all your friends. ... You’re the Cary Bulls in Cary at a tournament and you feel like there is nothing that can go wrong. We didn’t play perfectly, but we played hard. We literally just hit the ball right at (the opposing teams).
“I won’t say we didn’t have our chances. We had every chance in the world, but they have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Strange, in his second year as the Junior Bulls coach, hopes to go for the club’s sixth state championship since 2002 next season, but he hopes this season taught the players life lessons beyond the baseball diamond
“Looking forward to next year, we have good feeder schools, and I think that each kid will help their school immensely,” Strange said. “What I hope my guys learned was it doesn’t matter ‘What if.’ It matters that the sun comes up the next day. ... We’ll probably have a pretty good squad next year. I hope to get a good core back and add to it from the Colts. This year, 13-1 is a pretty good winning percentage, but we didn’t win a state championship. Win or lose, it’s really about getting better and developing a program.”