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Sixers showing no signs of slowing down after dominant start to season

May 30—CHEYENNE — Last season was a magical year for the Cheyenne Post 6 baseball team, which rode a wave of momentum from the start of the seasonall the way to the final four of the American Legion World Series in Shelby, North Carolina.

That wave has carried over to this season, and the Sixers have shown no signs of slowing down.

Through the first six weeks of play, the Sixers have raced to a 25-3 record heading into this weekend's Black Hills Veterans Classic in Rapid City, South Dakota. Post 6 won 21 of its first 22 games and also had a 14-game winning streak during that span.

"We've just been very clean," Cheyenne manager Ty Lain said. "We have very high baseball IQ, and we have played a very clean brand of baseball up to this point. We have a good understanding of how to win baseball games and have been able to execute."

Part of the credit for the Sixers' dominant start stems goes to its bullpen. Entering the season, Lain was tasked with having to replace two of the top pitchers in the region in Colter McAnelly and Bradley Feezer. The duo combined for 175 1/3 innings pitched, while posting a combined earned-run average of 1.21.

It's a task that would have sent any coach into a tailspin. While Lain admitted there were some questions about what pitching was going to look like, those fears were quickly squashed.

"We knew that our pitchers who were coming back were definitely talented enough," Lain said. "It was going to be how they would perform under more pressure of having to fill some bigger roles. So far, they have done a fantastic job. When we get to June, we will see how they fit in."

The Sixers' pitchers have posted a combined ERA of 1.66 through the first 28 games. They have allowed more than seven runs just twice and have also posted 10 shutouts.

"Guys have just been coming in and attacking hitters," Post 6 pitcher Corey Williams said. "They aren't giving hitters anything free. The biggest thing we can do is let our defense work because, in my opinion, we have one of the best defenses in the country that takes care of business and defends it well."

The impact McAnelly and Feezer had on the program hasn't been lost on any of the returners, Williams said. Watching the way the two former players prepared and attacked the game is one of the biggest things the team has been able to carry over into this season.

"Watching those guys pitch, it was a special thing," Williams said. "Being able to pick their brains last year and keep in contact with them in the offseason to figure out what helped them and apply it to the young guys (has been huge for us)."

Post 6's hitting has also been a big factor in its continued success. The Sixers have posted a combined batting average of .352 through the month of May. Leading the charge for the Sixers is returner Hayden Swaen and newcomer Jackson Garrett. The two are No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in batting average (among those with more than 30 plate appearances), posting .426 and .397 batting averages, respectively.

Cheyenne also has 11 hitters batting .300 or better to start the year. The high level of confidence at the plate is helping the team consistently put runners on base and across home plate.

"One-through-nine, everyone knows that we can hit the ball," left fielder Anthony Pacheco said. "We see it in batting practice, and we see it in the cages and the field. Everyone knows that everyone has confidence in themselves. When I see one guy up, I know I have confidence, and that goes for every guy who is hitting."

But perhaps the biggest factor behind Post 6's continued dominance is the pipeline from which it pulls talent. Over the last few years, Cheyenne has been able to replace outgoing talent with younger players who have been able to make immediate impacts at the varsity level.

The credit for that goes to the development the players receive with the Cheyenne Hawks and the other levels of Post 6's program, according to Lain. It has helped give Post 6 a leg up on the rest of the state.

"Our program has been based on that for the last 20-plus years." Lain said. "It's the coaches in our organization, but it's also our community in Cheyenne, all the way down to 8-year-olds playing WYCO competitively.

"Coach Barker being the final touch on those guys before they come up to us, he's done a phenomenal job for a long time, and it's helped build what we have going now."

As the calendar turns over to June, Post 6's schedule will get increasingly difficult. Keeping their minds squarely focused on the goal of making it back to the American Legion World Series is what will help get the team to maintain its fast start.

"That's just going to help us keep grinding through this tough stretch we have here," Pacheco said. "We also have to keep having fun, and (if we do that), we should be good."

Post 6 opens the Black Hills Veterans Classic against the Rapid City Post 320 Shooters at 2 this afternoon at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Matt Atencio covers Laramie County prep sports for WyoSports. He can be reached at matencio@wyosports.net. Follow him on X at @MattAtencio5.