The Humboldt Eagles 19U will open play at the American Legion state tournament on Friday afternoon, taking on West Hills out of San Diego.
And if they are to have any shot at winning a state title, they know what they need to do.
“Our pitching has been outstanding all season,” head coach Matt Tomlin said. “It’s going to come down to whether we can hit the ball.”
The bats have been a concern in recent weeks for the Eagles, who had to rally from an early loss at last weekend’s Area One Tournament to qualify for the state tourney in Yountville.
With an all-county all-star lineup. however, this is a team that could get hot at the plate at any moment, and if they do they will be difficult to stop.
“Our bats have to wake up if we’re going to win a state championship,” Tomlin said.
Arcata ace Merek Sears will get the start on the hill for the Eagles, with Kalebh Hill first out of the bullpen.
First pitch is set for noon.
As for what to expect from their opening opponents, Tomlin is making at least one assumption.
“We expect a good battle,” he said. “But we just don’t know much about a San Diego team.”
As one of just six teams to qualify for the double-elimination tournament out of 47 throughout the state, they should present the Eagles with one of their biggest challenges of the summer.
And the Humboldt players will be eager to start fast.
“We want to get off to a good start, and it comes down to game one,” the head coach said. “We just have to focus on one game at a time, and that’s the way you’ve got to approach these tournaments.”
If the Eagles win, they’ll face either Merced or Long Beach on Saturday, with Petaluma and Patrick Henry also in action on opening day.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.