The Marysville American Legion Post 79A baseball team should be able to put its best foot forward when the state tournament begins Monday in Lancaster.

The Marysville American Legion Post 79A baseball team should be able to put its best foot forward when the state tournament begins Monday in Lancaster.

The one drawback to Post 79A having players that played for Jonathan Alder High School, the Division II state champions, was that those players weren't around for the start of the season.

"It was kind of tough initially," said coach Chuck Gould, whose team enters the state tournament at 26-15. "We didn't have a set lineup and I was trying to get comfortable with where people were going to play."

Post 79A eventually put it together, winning the district 6 championship to make its sixth appearance in the state tournament since 2001. It defeated Utica Post 92 9-8 in 10 innings to win the championship July 17. On the way to the championship game, Post 79A defeated Prospect Post 368 11-4 on July 10. The following day it beat Johnstown Post 254 13-2. On July 15, Marysville beat Post 92 4-3, before playing for the championship.

Post 79A finds out its opening-round opponent today at a banquet for qualifying teams. Teams are placed using a random draw and there is no seeding process.

"At the end of June we started playing really well," Gould said. "Our pitching was really great. Our offense was really up and down. Going into the district tournament, we had a couple of good practices and we had a few practices off, which I think helped us get going."

At one point, Marysville was 9-12 and struggling. The final week in June it played in a tournament in Tennessee and that's when everything started coming together.

"(Tennessee) was a great turning point for us," said Marysville senior Kyle Nelson, who Gould said has been the team's most consistent hitter. "We were all in the same place and everybody got to know everybody. We got more comfortable with each other."

Post 79A is 17-3 in its last 20 games. Leading the charge is the pitching of Urbana's Kurtis Watkins and Bellefontaine's Daulton Mosbarger.

Watkins is 6-1 with a 2.50 ERA and Mosbarger is 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Nelson is batting .410 to lead all starters in hitting and leadoff hitter Sean Fleming is batting .395.

Post 79A won the state championship in 2004 and was a runner-up in 2001 and 2003. In 2003, the team won three consecutive games, but then lost several players to the start of football season. They ended up losing twice in the loser's bracket, Gould said.

Since then, the tournament has been moved ahead to dates that do not conflict with the start of football season. The tournament runs until Friday.

Worthington Post 239 is the other area team represented at state. Post 239 defeated Columbus (Watterson) Post 82 16-5 on July 17 to win the district 12 championship.

"Usually district 6 is one of the top couple of districts in the state," Gould said. "Just in our own program in the last 10 years we've won the state tournament. (Post 804/Licking County Junior Athletics) has won state. We've always been well represented."