So far, so good for the Five Points Bank juniors this postseason.
The Grand Island juniors earned a return trip to the American Legion Class A state tournament by going undefeated in the Area 6 tournament at South Sioux City.
Five Points prevailed in all four of its games, including a pair of one-run contests.
“We talked all year about wanting to play our best ball at the end of the year,” head coach Josh Redman said. “Going into districts, we did a great job of finding roles for the kids on the team, and they did a great job of fitting into those roles.
“The word down the stretch for us was to be ‘relentless.’ This team has to be relentless at the little things, and that’s why we won the Area 6 tournament and those close games.”
Now Five Points is focusing on extending that good play into the state tournament, which begins Saturday at Lincoln’s Sherman Field.
“We’ve been talking the last two days of practices about carrying our momentum into the state tournament,” Redman said. “We have 17 guys on the roster, and we can only play nine or 10 at a time. But we can call in somebody at any time to pinch run or pinch hit, so we want everybody to be ready.”
The tournament has a strong Millard flavor with three teams qualified. One of those, Millard North, is Five Points’ opening opponent at 4 p.m.
“We played them in the (Omaha) Westside tournament (on June 1) and it definitely didn’t go our way (in an 11-3 loss),” Redman said. “They are deep on the mound, can hit it and don’t make little mistakes or errors.”
But Five Points (23-14) is hoping that it is a much different team from that early point in the season.
In the area tournament, its pitchers allowed a total of 20 hits over four games.
Jaden Jurgensmier had what Redman called his best outing of the year in limiting South Sioux City to no earned runs and three hits in a complete-game win in the opener.
Zack Kissack didn’t allow an earned run on one hit over five innings against Gretna. The young duo of Tyler Fay and Jacob Nesvara combined to allow two runs on six hits vs. Columbus.
And Jonny Stoltenberg had what Redman said was his best performance of his two years with Five Points in the championship rematch against Gretna. After Five Points took the lead in the top of the seventh, closer Ryan Williams came in and finished off the victory in 11 pitches.
The offense was averaging collecting 8-9 hits per game and the defense only committed a couple of errors.
Mike Burhman leads Five Points at the plate with a .458 average and 24 RBIs. Sam Hartman (.418, 24 RBIs, 30 runs) and Cole Bauer (.423, 21 RBIs) are also among the team’s top hitters.
Five Points will need to replicate its performances from the area tournament against a state tournament field that Redman said “is very competitive.”
The other side of the bracket includes Papillion, Hastings, Millard South and Millard West. Five Points will be matched up against either Lincoln Southeast or Lincoln Southwest on Sunday in its second game.
“At state, anything can happen,” Redman said. “We accomplished our goal of winning our district, but we can’t be satisfied with that.”
After being Kearney twice on the final day to qualify at Duncan Field, Hastings gets the tournament underway against Papillion at 10 a.m.
Class A seniors
Hastings won its first Area 7 title since 1992 and now enters the Class A American Legion State Tournament American Division knowing its season is guaranteed to extend past this tourney.
Hastings opens play Saturday at 4 p.m. at Omaha Creighton Prep against Millard South.
No matter how Hastings fares in the state tournament, it will play in the Mid-South Regional Aug. 7-11 as the host team at Duncan Field. It will be joined there by state champions from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas as well as the Missouri runner-up.