- Game Preview
- Eric Richey
- May 10, 2017 - 3:59am
The baseball resume at St. Charles is loaded with hardware, but something is missing. Eight state runner-up trophies have no state titles to keep them company.
Close but no cigar, the Buffalo Bills, perennial bridesmaids.
Don't worry, the Comets have heard them all. Just ask head coach Wayne Stein.
As a player (1998), assistant coach (2004, '07, '08, '09) and head coach (2016) Stein has been a part of six of the Comets eight state runner-up teams and knows first-hand about the St. Charles near misses.
"I get a lot of questions about us with eight (state) runner-up trophies and if that's something that bothers us or is a weight, and I say no," said Stein. "Our program has been blessed enough to be there, I wouldn't trade eight runner-ups with no opportunities to be there."
After a torrid finish to the season, including a perfect 4-0 playoff record, No. 6 St. Charles is ready to change history starting with a Division III Semifinal showdown with No. 2 Ouachita Christian 1:00 p.m Thursday in Sulphur.
"Our kids expect to be there," said Stein. "We feel like we're one of the hottest baseball teams around right now. We didn't limp into Sulphur we kicked the door down to Sulphur. We're going there to compete and continue to play well and hopefully that's good enough to come away with a gold trophy.
We lost eight starters and we lost four assistant coaches and I think our kids just being there (last season) whether they played in the game or just being a part of it made them hungry to get back. There was a time in the season we were 8-8 and we won 17 out of the last 19, the kids just went to work. I think it's a self made baseball team. It's a team that made itself get better. We deserve where we are because the kids worked hard."
"Its been a grind the whole year," said Lloyd Nash. The Comets junior center fielder leads the Comets in hitting at .439, has scored a team-high 45 runs and has been perfect on the basepaths stealing 37 bases in 37 attempts.
"Starting off 8-8, we committed ourselves into getting better and we changed our season around and now we're going into Sulphur hot." said Nash. "We put in a lot of extra work after that tough beginning of the season. Hitting in the morning, extra hitting after practice, ground balls, fly balls we did a lot of extras to better ourselves. I think the key to this team is our intensity. I feel like if we bring our intensity and focus to the ballpark there's not a team that can beat us"
"Nash has been the Nash that he has been the last three years," said Stein. "We kind of call him an honorary senior even though he's a junior. He's the quarterback of this baseball team just like he is in football."
The 8-8 start got the attention of Evan Pfister, especially on the way to a road game at Teurlings Catholic.
"Just thinking we might not make the playoffs was really keeping our heads straight," said Pfister. "We knew we had to win to turn the season around and that's what we did."
Pfister has been a big part of that both at the plate (.317, 15 RBI, 12 Runs) and on the mound (7-4, 1.64 ERA, 50 K's, 14 BB, 3 Saves). Pfister will get the start on the mound for the Comets in Thursday's semifinal.
"I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be," said Pfister. "I do my best on the mound and that I can do my best for the team when I'm on the mound and I know they'll do their best for me."
"Pfister has been dominant all year as he was last year," said Stein. "He's picked up where Brennan Gilberti had some (rotator cuff tendinitis) injury and has been the ace and has given us a chance."
"Some of our seniors like Dustin Mire and Jayce Tamplain and even Evan Pfister guys that started the season that weren't in the lineup and once they got their chance to be in the lineup they really have produced and they're the difference I believe in being where we are today."
As for a good way to describe this team?
"Scrappy," said Mire. "Do whatever is needed to get the (win). Play as a team."
Make no mistake, finishing second in the state, (again) last year has the Comets motivated for a return visit. And those eight runner-up trophies with the no state championships?
"It's killing us," said Pfister. "We really want the gold so (the seniors are) driving these kids to give us a hundred percent at practice and have an intense mentality going into Sulphur."
"Going back to Sulphur, it just makes us to win," said Nash. "It makes us more hungry for a win."