Oakton baseball coach Tom Hall, who has coached the Cougars since the school opened in 1967-68, is retiring after 32 seasons. Hall's final team won the Virginia AAA Concorde District title, which is a major reason he decided this would be his final year.
"I always wanted to go out a winner," said Hall, 60. "It had been on my mind for a year that I had been at it for a long time. We lost a lot of starters and we had an outstanding season."
Hall wouldn't rule out a return to coaching "if the right situation came up." At the very least, he will coach one more game -- an alumni contest at Oakton featuring his former players.
"We'll have Tommy coach one team for half the game, then the other team for the other half," said Oakton activities director Sandy Reynolds, who said she hopes to have a successor in place next month. "Then we'll have a little roast for him. It will be my privilege to do this."
Hall retired from teaching six years ago. He said he doesn't plan to be around much next season because he doesn't want to put too much pressure on the new coach. Whoever replaces Hall, however, might have a hard time escaping Hall's legacy -- Reynolds said she will file a request to name the field after Hall.
"In Fairfax County you have to be retired or deceased for them to name the field after you," Hall said. "I chose the better one, I think."
Post 136 Takes Riley Title
Winning the Frank Riley League American Legion title is almost unreal to Greenbelt Post 136 Coach Larry Prange. After all, Chaney has had nearly a decade-long hold on the league's top spot.
With Chaney's 2-1 loss to Disney-Bell on Wednesday, Greenbelt (27-10 overall, 21-5 league), made up primarily of players from DeMatha and Eleanor Roosevelt, clinched its first trip to the Maryland American Legion state tournament in Frederick since 1977.
"It used to be Chaney and everyone else but the league has been very competitive this year," Prange said. "We might not have had the best talent but we had the best team. These kids worked hard and deserve it."
The Frank Riley League awards its state tournament berth to the top team in the league after a 28-game regular season. That team has been Chaney of Calvert County six consecutive years and seven of the past nine.
The state's eight-team, double-elimination tournament will take place in Frederick from July 30 to Aug. 3. The second-place finisher in the Frank Riley League advances to the National Amateur Baseball Federation senior division regional tournament, beginning Thursday in Wilmington, Del.
For Chaney (27-12, 18-8), this season has been one of unmet expectations -- primarily because of mental mistakes on the field.
"There were no walkover opponents this year," said Chaney Coach Ed Glaeser, who won Maryland American Legion titles from 1994 to '96. "We've been very inconsistent and it's been very discouraging. . . . We've won state championships with less talent than we've had this year."
Other area American Legion leagues use double-elimination playoffs to determine the state tournament representative.
Montgomery County began its tournament Tuesday with No. 4 seed Cissel Saxon defeating top-seeded Damascus, 4-2, and No. 2 Gaithersburg 295 beating No. 3 Gaithersburg 104, 9-8.
Virginia's District 16 tournament begins Saturday at Courtland and Spotsylvania high schools. At Courtland, Woodstock Post 199 (5-16) meets Woodbridge Post 364 (17-3) at 5 p.m. and Sterling Post 150 (14-7) faces Fredericksburg Post 55 (20-1) at 8 p.m. At Spotsylvania, Dumfries Post 28 (12-9) takes on Winchester Post 21 (15-5) and Stafford Post 290 (13-7) plays Loudoun Post 34 (15-6).