The hope for Huntersville American Legion Post 321 and its coach, however, is that Smith will repeat that statement a few more times this summer.
Entering Thursday's games, Huntersville and Union County share the lead in the Area IV Eastern Division with 9-2 records. The condensed regular season schedule — Huntersville did not play a game until June 4, after Hough High's run to the state championship series — is set to conclude Saturday with those teams playing what could decide the division championship. Huntersville will host Queen City Thursday and play at Lincoln County Friday, while Union will travel to Lincoln and Queen City before its matchup with Huntersville.
But regular season success has not been the issue for Huntersville in recent seasons.
Huntersville, 33-3 in the previous two regular seasons, has won the Eastern Division title the last two years — its only two titles in the modern era — and last year was 19-0 before a regular season finale loss to Charlotte. The 2010 and 2011 seasons also included three-game, first-round playoff sweeps of Henderson County and Burke County, respectively. However, Cherryville (2010) and Hickory (2011) ended Huntersville's runs with three-game sweeps in the second round.
In fact, Huntersville has never won a second-round playoff series. Smith, of course, is hoping to change that when the postseason begins July 3. Having found a formula to win in the regular season, it's been his goal this year to have his team make noise in the postseason. And he likes this year's team.
"They're hard-nosed, battling guys and they are starting to get tight, getting to know each other," said Smith. "If we can stick together, I think we'll be fine for the playoffs."
Averaging 9.8 runs per game, Huntersville showed what it could do offensively Tuesday against 9-5 Mint Hill, which is fourth in the division. Huntersville compiled 13 hits, drew 10 walks, stole six bases and produced innings of six and four runs. Second baseman Jared Sobo had three hits from the No. 9 spot in the order, while third baseman Kyle Bynum, left fielder Cam Underwood, pitcher Hunter Conley and catcher Nick Daddio added two each. Bynum, Conley and Daddio each had doubles, and Conley's two-bagger in the first inning drove in the game's first three runs.
The offensive effort was backed up by the strong pitching of Conley and Jared Fortune and a defense that committed two errors.
The winning formula worked Tuesday. Smith and Co. just hope it does in July.