Douglass got hot at the right time. It's the only way to explain how it ended up in the Class 3A state baseball tournament.
Douglass entered its regional with a 6-11 record, then won three consecutive games, including upsets over the No. 1- and No. 3-ranked 3A teams— Collegiate and Medicine Lodge.
Douglass' upsets shouldn't be labeled as flukes. Two top teams don't just lay down and die in regional tournaments. However, Douglass pitcher Jake Lovendahl said his team will likely be overlooked again in its bracket.
"We're still the eighth seed, and we're going to be the underdog again," Lovendahl said. "We know people are going to look at that stuff. We've got a solid team, and we're just going to go out and have fun and play hard and see what happens."
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Douglass will face an undefeated Doniphan County team Friday. It again faces the toughest road to the championship due to its seeding, but players say they are approaching the game as if they have nothing to lose. They didn't go into the regional with the pressure of winning it all on their shoulders, and it worked out for them. They will take the same approach Friday.
"With regionals, we didn't know that we we're going to be competing for a chance to play in state," Douglass shortstop
Scott Soland said. "So we just decided to go out there and play hard and play loose — have fun. It takes a lot of the pressure off of us. We just able to go out there and relax and play ball."
Tough schedule pays off for Valley Center — Valley Center will enter its Class 4A quarterfinal game with a 7-16 record and confident that will advance to the next round. The fact that it will be playing a 19-0 Silver Lake doesn't seem to scare the Hornets.
Players say their record is deceiving. Their regular-season schedule was full of doubleheaders against 5A and 6A schools including state qualifiers Andover Central and Salina Central, plus Newton (19-4) and Winfield (14-8).
"We saw pitching all the way from the high 80s to the low 90s," Valley Center pitcher Andre Vieyra said. "Playing against that and then going to a 4A schedule and seeing the pitching that we did — it was night and day. It was just different baseball. We were prepared for what they threw at us."
Valley Center players dogpiled on the pitchers mound following their regional championship win over Kingman-Norwich. It's something that Vieyra can see happening again.
"At this time, I think that people are going into state thinking that they're going to roll all over us, but they don't realize the 5-6A schedule we've played. People are underestimating what we can do. We've got tools and our bats are coming alive. I think we're a force to be reckoned with. I think they should be scared.