Playing in a regional semifinal is nothing new for the Jonathan Alder baseball team.
In fact, other than the few freshman who are on the extended postseason roster, there’s not a single player or coach who will be in the dugout at Wright State University at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, who hasn’t at least been a part of this round of playoff baseball. This indeed is one of the perks of building a winning program.
Alder (24-4) will tangle with Bellefontaine (26-5) in what will be the Pioneers fifth straight year of playing in the regional semifinals. Alder is a perfect 4-0 in regional semifinal games in the last four years and is 3-1 in regional championship in that same span.
Alder coach Craig Kyle said there’s no special formula, no secret to his team’s success at the regional, it’s simply doing the same things that are taught all season long.
“I don’t think it’s any one thing,” he said. “I think it’s a lot of the little things that we do, throwing strikes, making routine play, putting the ball into play, moving runners along. It still comes down to the little things, whether you’re playing in the district, regional or state you can’t forget that it’s still just baseball.
Alder’s experience of playing in big games is something that carries on from team to team and older players to younger ones and something Kyle believes has helped build his program into one of the state’s most consistent.
“A lot of our kids have watched the older guys ahead of them play in big games or have played in big games themselves. They’ve been a part of teams that have gone through deep tournament runs and that experience is key,” the coach said. “When we started this five years ago I told them we didn’t want this to be a one year wonder. We wanted to build a program and some how some way we’ve been able to do that. We’ve said if you win the Central District in Division II you have a chance to compete at the state level and we’re ready to go.”
Thursday’s opponent Bellefontaine is a squad that Kyle is well aware of and knows that it will surely come ready to play. He sees a lot of his own team in the talented Chieftains.
“They’re a really good team,” he said. “Traditionally they’ve been good and have been to the regional. They’re a lot like us, they put the ball into play and their pitchers will throw strikes. We expect it to be a tough battle.”
The winner of the Alder-Bellefontaine will advance to the D-II regional final at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 30, against either Monroe or Tipp City Tippecanoe also at Wright State University.
Kyle said he won’t change his approach to the game and doesn’t plan on doing anything different than what’s worked in the past.
“We don’t change a thing,” he said. “We talk about wanting to play in big games, but we want to keep things the same. We want to play with the same sense of urgency that we’ve been playing with. There’s no difference and our guys know this.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.