Donavin McCurley, Kasey Watts and Bobby Cox are headed with the rest of the state champion Juneau Post 25 team next week to the American Legion Northwest Regional tournament in Lewiston, Idaho.
Barring a trip to the American Legion World Series, the tournament will mark the longtime teammates’ final games together. The trio, all age 19, will age out of the league next year, putting an end to a prolific Legion career.
After coming up the Gastineau Channel Little League ranks together — they played in their first All-Stars tournament in 2010 — McCurley, Watts and Cox joined the Legion program while in high school and stayed on even after graduation.
“I’ve been with them off and on for probably eight, nine years,” Juneau coach Joe Tompkins said. “I’m just going to miss them. They’re friends, they’re not only players.”
Their dedication to the Legion program paid off in the form of three consecutive state championships. Not bad considering the first season all three played together for Post 25 —2017 — Juneau had won two state championships total.
“As much as I hate to say it, I love Kasey and Dono so much,” Cox said. “They’re great, great team players. (We) might have our difficult times, we might have our differences between each other and arguments, but we love each other a lot and I love them as my brothers.”
The three seemed to elevate their game when the spotlight was the brightest, sometimes in tandem.
In Tuesday’s state semifinals game against South Post 4, Watts’ purposely got caught in a pickle between first and second base in order to allow McCurley to score the game-tying run.
Two innings later, McCurley scored again, but this time, it was the game-winning score off Cox’s walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“We have mad respect (for each other),” McCurley said. “We just believe in each other and we know exactly what we can do. We’ve seen what we can do. I don’t know really what else to say besides I love these guys, I’ll never forget them.”
Watts said his and McCurley’s relationship was deepened through baseball, but will continue on after their playing days are over.
“It’s something that we’re going to look back on the rest of our lives,” Watts said. “When we see Dono, we’re going to know what we’ve been through and what we’ve accomplished so it’s just another step in the brotherhood moment that we have and it’s the end of a book, and we’re starting a new one.”
Watts and Cox both intend to play at the next level. Watts will be headed down to Arizona this month for tryouts with Mesa Community College, and Cox is still looking around for potential landing spots.
McCurley played last fall for Treasure Valley Community College, but this year decided to start a career in construction.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.