St. Joe baseball ready to make history at State Championship
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - When the South Bend St. Joseph baseball team defeated Northwood last Saturday, it marked the first time the program had reached the state finals.
Now with the game looming, just getting there is not enough for this team.
"It's a lot bigger stage here and it'll be fun, I've never been there either and I'm looking forward to it," Head Coach John Gumpf said.
The bigger stage will likely bring nerves and excitement to a majority of St. Joe players and that's normal with human nature, but Gumpf hopes the excitement turns to focus quickly.
"I want them to enjoy it, but they have to know once we step between the two lines and get in that dugout, it's time to play, but you got to have fun, you go to have fun playing this game," Gumpf said.
But according to the players, calming those nerves is a lot easier said than done.
"It's definitely hard, you just want to get to one out away in that seventh inning and have a one run lead so you can get that dog pile on top of you but there's just so much that goes into it before and it starts this week in practice," Junior Pitcher Michael Dunkelberger said.
And the Indians will be playing the role of underdog, something they're embracing, knowing they've come this far.
"Playing against Jasper, I know they've won five state championships and we've never even been there so we're going up against the best and you got to beat the best to be the best," Dunkelberger said.
"It's one game, it's not a series so it's whose going to show up that day," Gumpf said.
Now faced with a chance to put a bow on a historic season.
"It would be a memory for me for the rest of my life especially winning the state championship and a few of the guys on the team that I've been friends with pretty much my whole life and just winning it with them just making those memories to win the first state championshp at St. Joe, it's really exciting," Senior Infielder Tyler Kleva said.
St. Joe will take on Jasper Saturday at Victory Field in Indianapolis with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.