Daylin Crabtree believes the Owensboro Post 9 Bombers are poised to play their best baseball of the summer when they begin play in the American Legion Baseball State Tournament on Thursday in Eddyville.
"As a team, we've just now come together," Crabtree said. "Hitting-wise, we're the best we've been all season 1 through 9 in the lineup, and our pitching and defense are coming around, showing improvement.
"We just need to put it all together when the tournament starts and take our best shot — I believe this team is peaking at the right time."
The Bombers will play at 11 a.m. on Thursday against the winner of Wednesday's opener between host Lyon County and Mayfield. Also in the six-team field are Oldham County, Ashland and Shelbyville, which, like Owensboro, received a first-round bye.
Crabtree, a 6-foot-3, 170-pounder, has certainly done his part — pitching, playing first base, and roaming the outfield — providing the Bombers a versatile, veteran presence.
"Daylin is a phenomenal athlete who is still growing into his 6-3 frame," said his Bombers manager this summer, Matt Freeman. "He's been a workhorse for us on the mound and has given us a strong stick in the heart of our order.
"A number of college coaches have inquired about him because of the way he has performed. Going into his senior year, his recruitment will really take off if he continues to progress."
Crabtree believes he has made considerable progress at the plate.
"This season for the Bombers I've hit better than I've ever hit," said Crabtree, who bats right and throws right. "I'm stepping to the plate with a lot of confidence believing I'm going to get the job done. My mental approach is really good right now, and I'm up there expecting to be successful."
A rising senior at Apollo High School, Crabtree's versatility has extended to the mound, where he has seen action as both a starter and reliever.
"I feel confident in my abilities as a pitcher," said Crabtree, whose arsenal includes a fastball, change-up, curveball and slider. "I feel like I can help the team at any time — as a starter, or as a guy who can come into the game in relief and get the big out we need.
"This summer, I've continued to develop as a pitcher. I'm continuing to grow, continuing to gain confidence, and I'm excited about my senior season at Apollo — I'm really looking forward to it."
Beyond that, Crabtree is hoping to receive a scholarship offer and continue his career on the diamond at the collegiate level.
"I definitely want to keep playing, if at all possible," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens."
Crabtree, 17, began playing baseball at age 6 in Stanley, and he's never stopped.
"I fell in love with baseball at an early age and I still love playing the game," he said. "To me, it's the best game there is."