For the Eau Claire Memorial and Eau Claire North baseball teams, tomorrow is a huge day as both the Old Abes and huskies will have their sights set on a trip to next week's WIAA state tournament in Appleton.
The possibility exists that if Memorial and North win their respective sectional semifinals, the two teams would play for the right to go to state.
The Old Abes were on the practice field this afternoon at Fairfax Park preparing for tomorrow afternoon's D1 sectional semifinal against Hudson. Memorial coach Dave Sparger will send his ace pitcher Jake Sparger in that first game. Jake did not face the Raiders during the regular season and both his coach and teammates believe that will be a big advantage on Tuesday.
"I think Jake will be fine tomorrow. He knows the situation. He's been in those situations before. I don't think it will really rattle him at all. He just going to step up there and pitch his game and if he just pitches the way he's capable of and keeps the ball down in the zone, we should be OK tomorrow," says Dave Sparger.
"Behind Jake our pitching has been phenomenal this year and our defense has been great. You know it just relies on our hitting and I think if we can put the ball in play, do the little things right. You know the big things will come along with that and hopefully we'll come out with the win," says first baseman Drew Davis.
In the first game tomorrow morning, Eau Claire North will square off against the top seed in the sectional, Stevens Point. A rematch of the 2010 sectional final when the Huskies knocked off the Panthers en route to North's state championship.
Coach Bob Johnson's team beat Menomonie and Marshfield in last week's regionals to advance to Tuesday. The Huskies say they have plenty of confidence heading into the sectional.
"We've done a lot of things well in our two playoff games so I feel good about both our wins Tuesday and Thursday. I also feel about just the way this team has been tested. We've been in 10 one run games this year, we've come out on the down side of most of those games but we've played a lot of baseball in a short amount of time and I really think our baseball team is battle tested," says Johnson.
"Because we've only played double headers this regular season I think we're ready for that. I mean we've been there throughout the whole season so we know what that looks like, we know what it is to grind out 14 innings in a single day and the team that comes prepared and is willing to do all the little things for 14 straight innings, is going to come out on top," says shortstop, Sam Hurt.