It was a short summer for the Shelton Post 16 American Legion team.
On Wednesday night, Shelton forfeited for the second time in five days — this time to Stratford.
By virtue of its second forfeit of the season, Post 16 forfeited all remaining contests and will now need to seek reinstatement in order to compete in Zone II next summer.
“It’s not easy,” Zone II chairman Joe Mattei said of the reinstatement process. “First off, it’s a $500 fee and you have to make a presentation at the September, October meetings. You’ve got to prove you can do it.”
Mattei also said if a new regime is in place, similar to what occurred with West Haven’s Legion program after it folded during the 2014 season, the fee could potentially be reduced to $250.
Shelton’s American Legion team website listed a 17-man roster, but Post 16 has struggled to bring more than nine players to each of its first seven games.
The first forfeit occurred on Saturday when Shelton could not field a team for the second game of its home doubleheader against Orange.
“It was a chain of bad events,” Shelton head coach Fred Bodyk said. “It’s kind of a phenomena going on. We had about six kids committed to Legion. Some are overcommitted, with Senior Babe Ruth, showcases.”
Some players that were eligible to return to Post 16 as 19-year-old postgraduates elected to play in the West Haven Twilight League and the Bridgeport Senior City League. Shelton also does not field a Junior Legion team, something eight of the 10 teams in Zone II have in their favor. Shelton and West Haven are the only two programs in the Zone that do not have Junior Legion.
“That’s one of the problems in Shelton,” Bodyk said. “We don’t get a lot of support.”
The midweek series against Stratford proved to be the end of the line for Post 16. Shelton had 10 players for Tuesday’s 17-0 mercy-rule shortened loss to Stratford. Bodyk was counting on 10-11 players for Wednesday matchup, but several players backed out and with no recourse, Shelton forfeited for the second time.
“That was it,” Bodyk said. “It’s out of my control.”
It’s an unfortunate situation for the committed players, who will now need to find another place to play this summer.
“I feel bad for the guys that were committed,” said Bodyk. “I apologized for what happened. I spent the day emailing a lot of the players.”
While Shelton was 1-6 following Tuesday’s loss to Stratford, the program has been one of the most consistent in the Zone for the past decade. Under former manager Sean Kiernan, Post 16 won three consecutive Zone II titles from 2006-2008. Shelton then qualified for the state tournament in 2009 and 2010, before missing in 2011 and 2012. After returning to states in 2013, Post 16 missed out on the tournament by one game in 2014, before splitting a pair of tournament games last summer.