Before the season started, Western Reserve Head Coach Ed Anthony had his team put goals on a blackboard in their locker room. One goal was make a deep playoff run, which they have done that with a regional title to their name, but now it has been taken a step further. Win a state championship.
“There ain’t anyone in that locker room that thought we would be where we are at right now,” says senior shortstop and pitcher Tristan Bova.
“There ain’t anybody in any locker room in the state of Ohio that thought we would be where we are at right now.”
“I looked at them and said what about a state championship? And they all looked at each other and I said why not you guys,” said Ed Anthony to his team before practice Monday.
The Blue Devils have thrived in the underdog role throughout the season. With that mentality they have been able to do something no other Western Reserve baseball team has been able to do, go to a state semifinal where once again, they will play the role of underdog. They will take on defending state champion and Division 4 powerhouse Newark Catholic.
“All three of them are looking at us like, Western Reserve? Where did you come from? Where are you at? And I do not know where you are at either. So it does not matter to me. I do not care what they got, I do not care how many they have won, we do not care how many they won. It is just, we have nothing to lose, first time we have been there, they have been there what 13 times? We have nothing to lose,” says Bova about Newark Catholic and the other teams in the final four.
On top of the task of playing the defending champs, Reserve is also dealing with injury problems.
Ace Nick Allison is 9-0 this season with an ERA under one, but he is dealing with arm soreness and will be a game-time decision Thursday.
If he can not go, Tristan Bova would get the start, and freshman Wyatt Larimer would get the start at shortstop.
“I have always been preparing for this. Playing travel ball all these years, says Larimer.
“It is always work hard, I have always been put in these positions whether I do not know if I am going to get thrown out there or not, so I am always ready when they need me.”
Western Reserve (19-5) takes on Newark (19-7) on Thursday at 1 PM in Columbus. The other state semi-final game features Defiance Tinora (23-4) against Convoy Crestview (20-6).