Eau Claire (WQOW) — For the fourth straight season, the Eau Claire North baseball team is getting set for the division one state quarterfinals in Appleton. The Huskies once again captured the sectional one crown last week, and are playing as well as any of the eight remaining teams in the field.
The Huskies run to the state tournament has been impressive, especially after starting the season 3-3 after being swept on the road at River Falls. But they’ve rattled off 19 wins in their last 20 games, including eight straight heading into Tuesday’s quarterfinals. North has continued to improve week after week on the diamond, and are playing their best baseball of 2019.
“We knew coming into it, that we were going to have to figure it out a little bit as a team,” says senior outfielder/pitcher Sam Stange. “I think it’s been a gradual process, even though we’ve had success for awhile now. And our latest games have definitely been our strongest ones. So kind of putting the pieces together and getting used to that, has been our key I think.”
“Got through some of those challenges,” says head coach Bob Johnson, who’s in his 14th season with the Huskies. “A couple come back victories, and I think we built some confidence in our players. It built confidence when things were challenging and hard, that we could come back and continue to battle. And then it just kind of rolled from there.”
What’s especially been rolling for North, is how they’ve been swinging the bats on offense. They’re averaging nearly ten runs a game during the winning-streak, scoring 79 total runs in the span. Sam Stange, Gabriel Richardson, and Anthony Pogodzinski are all hitting over .400, and the Huskies as a team are hitting .339. It’s pick your poison with this line-up, as they’re getting quality at bats from the top to the bottom.
“We take pride in how we swing the bats. This year it’s really shown that what we’re doing in practice, is really paying off in games,” says senior outfielder Gabe O’Brien. “At the bottom of the order, I feel like it’s a new kid that’s doing something every game. So it’s nice to see everyone fit in their.”
“Coach talks about gap-to-gap, and we have hitters one through nine that can put the ball all over the place,” Stange says. “So kind of just going with the pitch, and that’s something that we work on is not being a one-sided hitter. So being able to take any pitch in any count and put it into play, and I think anybody can do that in our lineup.”
The Huskies take on Hamilton in the division one quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Appleton.