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West finds itself in uncharted waters

July 3, 2012

When the Wauwatosa West baseball team knocked off Greendale, 10-1, Monday at Breitlow Field, the Trojans remained in first place in the Woodland Conference Black Division.

Here are some numbers to look at.

The Trojans are in first place with a 10-4 record after Monday's win. Last year Tosa West started to come back to respectability, going 8-9 in league play. But the three years before that the Trojans had a total of six wins combined (one, two and three wins going back to 2007) in conference play.

It is an amazing turnaround.

"It is a great feeling to have," star pitcher Austin Jones said. "Some people think: 'They will never get there, they'll get tight. They're going to fold under pressure.' But we've been talking about this since this winter. We made it our goal to win the conference championship. We've been expecting this, and now that we're here we feel like we deserve it"

The team met in December, when Tosa West coach Chad Mateske gave the returning players each a bag filled with infield dirt from Breitlow Field.

There are five pieces of tape on each bag representing the first day of tryouts, the first game, the Wauwatosa East game, the St. Thomas More game on Saturday and the first playoff game.

"We are going to make sure that the St. Thomas More game counts for something this year," Mateske said. "We are going after a conference championship. We are in a position to go after that goal."

It's that last line that I think it important: "We are in a position to go after the goal."

The Trojans had a rugged schedule on Tuesday, having to play at Blue Division Champion New Berlin West in the afternoon and then drive out to Greendale on Tuesday night, two of their final three games. They host St. Thomas More at 11 a.m. Saturday.

"We have a lot on the line, and I never experienced that when I came into this program," Jones said. "Three wins and if we win out, the worst we can do tie for conference championship."

Player Tyler Gross felt there was a change of attitude this season.

"After those bad years, we kept getting better," he said. "This year we came in extremely confident and felt we had a chance. A lot of the other teams in the conference have lost their best guys. So that gave us a lot of confidence."

Mateske points out that the Tosa East game on Saturday helped his team get ready for this week.

"We have three games in two days, two games in one day," he said. "Then two (non-conference) games on Friday and then St. Thomas More.

"We needed first win and give our best effort. The East game made us hungrier. What we enjoyed was that it was playoff atmosphere baseball. The crowd was into it, the teams were into it."

No matter what happens this week - and I do hope the Trojans win every game, especially the conference ones - the fact that Tosa West has a chance to win a Woodland Conference Championship in the final week of the season goes a long way toward seeing this program starting to turn around.

Give the players, Mateske and his varsity coaches Jack Ward and Allan Rozanski and the rest of his staff a tip of the hat for what they have accomplished.

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