The Wyoming AA American Legion State Baseball Tournament is underway. Players, ages 19 and under from around the state, are competing for a chance to go to regionals in Gillette to play against teams from states across the Northwest.
The Jackson Giants play the Laramie Rangers today after losing to the Cheyenne Sixers on Tuesday. The tournament concludes Friday.
The Jackson Giants are led by manager and American Legion Hall of Famer Jason Huggins. He’s coached the team for over a decade and has more than 300 games at the helm.
“We have built a really family-cultured program here, and for me, that’s the most rewarding thing,” Huggins said.
The Giants traveled across the state this season facing every AA team in Wyoming before starting conference play.
David Settle has covered Wyoming High School Sports for over two decades and is reporting on the state tournament in Jackson for high school sports news website WyoPreps.com.
“Legion Baseball in this state thrives. I’ve seen it grow and change and transform,” Settle said. “It really is the backbone of baseball in this state.”
Several Major League Baseball players have come out of Wyoming. Brandon Nimmo of Cheyenne is now an outfielder with the New York Mets. Pitcher Tom Browning of Casper played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 80s and 90s. Catcher Dick Ellsworth from Lusk had a 13-year major league career across three decades. John Buck, a catcher from Kemmerer, played on a variety of MLB teams. And outfielder Mike Devereaux won the 1995 World Series with the Atlanta Braves.
This tournament gives players a chance to improve their stock amongst college and pro scouts. The Giants roster includes nine high school seniors.
Matt Fisher and Ayden Gralund are two of the team’s standout players. Fisher has the most Player of the Game Awards, and Gralund is batting over .400, a difficult feat.
“Just playing well, energy is high going into it, so I’m looking forward to it.” Gralund said. “Keeping this team, all of their eyes on the end goal, the State Championship, and just playing each game, one game at a time and not worrying about the next.”