St. Joseph’s baseball team hardly had smooth sailing as it enters the 2A state championship game riding a wave.
The Bulldogs (17-9) re-engerized themselves in winning three straight games to reach Saturday’s 3 p.m. title game at Baum Stadium at Fayetteville.
"We had our bumps and bruises," said St. Joseph coach Luke Davis. "We don’t play normal baseball. We ugly baseball up really good, but that’s kind of how we play. We have to do things that weren’t traditional."
The middle of the Bulldog defense is almost all freshmen — at second, short and catcher.
"That’s kind of a recipe for disaster there at times," said Davis. "We know we are going to make some errors. We accept that and do what we do. I’ve had this philosophy in volleyball and baseball. We’re gonna lose some games but it never OK\ to lose. We either win or we learn from it and we’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn this season."
One of the lessons was how to approach the district and regional tournaments after finishing second to a strong Conway Christian team in district and third to Conway Christian and Magazine in the 2A regional.
"You have to win two or three to get to the regional and one game in regional to get to state; you get to state and anything can happen," Davis said. "We met Conway Christian in the semifinals of the regional and I had to make a decision. We certainly tried to win but I tried to save some pitching, then try to get the third seed by having our best pitchers ready for the third-place game.
"I told the boys what I was doing. They trusted me accepted the philosophy to look at the whole picture than just one game."
St. Joseph lost to CCS but defeated Pangburn in the third-place game.
The Bulldogs enter the state title game as a 3 seed in its regional as does Spring Hill. On the way to gaining the championship, St Joseph defeated the top two seeds (Camden Harmony Grove and Parkers Chapel) from Spring Hill’s region.
St. Joseph, who won the state title in 2013, has been led by three pitchers, David Beck, Daniel Lee Kordsmeier and Brad Vandivere.
"That’s good for us this year, but maybe not so good next year," Davis said. "But we have some good, young arms coming up."
None of the St. Joseph players were involved in the 2013 championship.
"But some of them watched their older brothers," said Davis. "I tell our players to enjoy the trip but I want them to do more than enjoy it. We are going up to win. It’s the last chance for our seniors and those memories will last a lifetime. Getting there is great; winning is priceless."