The moment of truth is coming for two local prep baseball teams.
Tuesday Beloit Memorial (Division 1) and Parkview (Division 3) will compete in WIAA sectionals. The Purple Knights will play in the familiar environs of Pohlman Field, while the Vikings travel to Muscoda to play at Riverdale High School.
The Vikings are coming off a regional victory over Cuba City that vaulted them into the sectionals where they will take on Wisconsin Heights in the semifinal at 1:30 p.m.
Parkview defeated Wisconsin Heights 3-0 last season to capture the regional crown. This time the stakes will be a little higher.
“We’ve played them four times in the last three years,” Parkview coach Troy Aasen said. “We’ve beaten them all four times, but all four have been good games. They are pretty similar team to us. They play good defense and their pitchers throw strikes.”
Taking the ball in game one will be senior Jameson Lavery, who pitched the Vikings into the sectionals with a complete game win over Cuba City.
“I’m counting down the hours,” Lavery said. “because things like this, you wait for them for so long and then they are over so quick. But there is a lot more confidence coming into this season because of what we have been able to do.”
Parkview has a key component to a succcesful tournament team: Two outstanding pitchers. Lavery and Trevor Aasen make a up a solid one-two punch, and the two proved it by allowing just one run over the first 14 innings of playoff competition.
With the sectional semifinals and finals held on the same day, Aasen believes it’s the legitimate way to earn a state berth.
“When you play back-to-back, it’s saying the best team is going to come out of there,” Aasen said. “The team that has the best number two pitcher and plays good defense and eeks a couple of runs across is going to be the one that wins. You don’t seen any teams who get to state without two really good pitchers.”
The other bracket features second-seeded Westby against third seed Spencer. Westby has been in the same sectional as the Vikings for the previous three years, so there is some familiarity between the two teams despite not having met.
The Vikings offense scored just nine runs in the two games at regionals, but Aasen believes his bats will be just fine come Tuesday.
“I think we are kind of due to go off offensively,” he said. “We did this in regionals last year where we just kind of scored enough runs to win, but our pitching and defense got us through. But then when we got to the state championship game, we hit the snot out of the ball. It just kind of goes like that.”
The Purple Knights’ first opponent is a very familiar one in Janesville Craig. The two teams split two close games this season and Knights head coach Scott Huffman knows his team is in for a battle.
“That game is going to be a war,” Huffman said. “We feel like we beat ourselves in the game we lost, and we are coming out with a lot to prove.”
The Knights proved they were more than ready for its first playoff test against Oregon. Beloit pounded the Hawks 13-1, giving Huffman some peace of mind about how his team took to playoff pressure.
“We were extremely pleased with how they played,” Huffman said. “We were a little nervous as a staff that they would come out kind of looking ahead, but they did a great job responding. Once we got out of the first inning I figured we’d be OK.”
In the other semifinal, Janesville Parker takes on Stoughton. The semifinal winners will then meet Tuesday for the sectional title.
Patrick Whalen, who went the distance in the five-inning game against Oregon, will take the ball against Craig.
“I’m excited and nervous but I just have to treat it as another game,” Whalen said. “I can’t get too hyped about it or I don’t pitch as well.”
The Beloit-Janesville Craig contest is scheduled to get underway at approximately 1 p.m.