Roughly 6:20 p.m. at Liberty Park should have meant the first innings of play for Wednesday night’s Sedalia Travelers game. Instead, stadium food was being enjoyed in the dugout while infielders were taking grounders.

Expected to play Independence Post 21, a communication breakdown of some sort prompted a no-show and a forfeit for the visitors.

If the Travelers had seen it coming, head coach Tanner McKee would not have assigned two days of rest after Sunday’s weekend tournament.

“No, no I wouldn’t have,” McKee said with a laugh. “But it was still good to get everybody out their and get everyone reps in and at least do something to get some work in. Anytime at this stage of your career, it’s about reps, reps, reps. We’re not teaching the basics anymore because they’ve got that, so it’s about getting better through repetition. Any bit helps.”

It’s back to action Thursday with the three-day Branson Tournament. The Travelers will play back-to-back games at College of the Ozarks beginning at 11:30 a.m. First up will be a contest against Joplin, then one with Poplar Bluff. They’ll start the same time on Friday, taking on Fike, then close out bracket play against Republic at 7 p.m.

Kyler Simoncic will get the nod against Joplin, with the remainder of the mound starters to be determined. Some kids will be missing a day here and there, so it’s a wait-and-see approach.

“We won’t have everyone, but we’ll piece it together,” McKee said. “I think we’ll have enough arms, especially with not having a game [Wednesday]. It definitely frees us up.”

Three other pools of five teams are competing in the tournament. If the Travelers finish third or lower, they’ll be matched with another squad that finishes identically in a one-off on Saturday. A first or second-place finish in the group would also mean another game against an identical seed, but also a chance to advance and play in the tournament’s championship game.

Historically, Post 642 has performed well at the tourney, posting an even or winning record in pool play the last several trips.

“Definitely, the goal going into it is to win your pool, to come out of the bracket as a No. 1 or 2 seed,” McKee said. “In the past, usually we’ve done pretty well. The last two years, if I remember right, we were just on the verge of being a wildcard but were right on the outside of it by runs allowed.”

“If we run into good pitching and stuff, we’re at least getting games in down there and getting those reps in. As long as we’re getting better and not taking steps back, that’s the key.”

Sports Reporter

Bryan Everson is the sports reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering games and sports features in Sedalia and Pettis County and surrounding areas. He can be reached at 660-530-4541.

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