Coaches provide valuable lessons on state experienceNot too many of the players on either the Prescott or Ellsworth high school baseball teams have played in a state tournament before in any sport.
Not too many of the players on either the Prescott or Ellsworth high school baseball teams have played in a state tournament before in any sport.
In fact, of all the players on both teams' rosters, only Dennis Schutz of Ellsworth has been in a state level event as part of the Panthers' wrestling team.
But both squads will have the benefit of coaches who have been there, done that when it comes to state tournaments.
PHS's Jeff Ryan was there the last time the Cardinals were at state in 1999. They finished second that season. He was also an assistant when Ellsworth head coach Steve Block had taken Prescott to state in 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997, coaching a state champion back in '94.
Ryan says a good rule of thumb for a state-bound team is appreciate the journey.
"We all should be very be proud of the accomplishment because it is not easy to get to state and you being to realize it when you haven't been there in a while," Ryan said. "But with that in mind you have to balance this out against being satisfied just to be there. You have to make sure every stays on the path to the same goal and that's winning the tournament. The winning teams,more often than not, are able to keep their balance."
Block says its important to make sure any kind of distraction or anything which would disrupt the team's ability to compete mentally and physically is swept aside.
"When you're in a situation like we're in when it's the first time for so many in a big stadium and we're playing a team which is highly regarded, it's important the kids are still able to play in the same fashion which got them there," Block said. "The kids have to feel confident they in their preparation to play the game and that they belong there just as much as the other team."
The state baseball tournament has one unique feature, unlike other tournaments, which can be a benefit to preparing a team.
"I think it helps school is out," Block said. "If school was in session and given what we had done there would be a lot of talk throughout the day about going to state and playing the No. 1 ranked team which I feel are the kind of distractions you want to eliminate. Being out of school it's easier for the players to get ready."
Also unique is the fact two Pierce County teams will get to take part in the event for the first time since 1997 when Prescott and Plum City were both there.
"It's going to be exciting for the atmosphere of the event. I know both teams and their fans will be cheering each other on," Ryan said. "It's also exciting because it shows everyone in the state what we already know and that is this area has a lot of great baseball teams, and you can include Red Wing (which made the Minnesota Class AAA state tournament)as well; That the conference we play in, the Middle Border, is very tough and has a lot of good teams and players and that we have a lot of great baseball fans and persons excited about the sport to be able to sustain it."
Prescott will take the field at Fox Valley Stadium mid-afternoon against Oshkosh Lourdes/Oshkosh Valley Christian in the Division 3 state semifinals while Ellsworth will play the final game of the day in the Division 2 state semis against Racine St. Catherine's.