MORRIS — When Morris baseball coach Todd Kein has seen LaSalle-Peru's team this season, he almost had to a double take. The Cavaliers are remarkably similar to his own Redskins in their team makeup and style of play.
"We are very similar teams," Kein said. "I noticed that when we played them in their tournament a couple of weeks ago. And then the other day [Thursday] against Coal City, I thought it again. I expect a good game Saturday."
The Redskins, as the top seed, take on No. 2 seed L-P today at 10 a.m. for the championship of the Class 3A Morris Regional. The softball team will play at 11 a.m. for the title against Ottawa. If both Morris teams win, the Redskins will be 3-for-3 in spring regional titles, as the soccer team won its own regional last week, also on its home field.
"It will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes, and who can capitalize when the other team does make a mistake," Kein said. "We have said all year that our pitching and defense has been a constant for us, and they will have to be again in this game."
Kein wouldn't say who he was starting on the mound against the Cavaliers, who rallied to beat Coal City 5-3 on Thursday, but he knows who will be ready.
"It will be all hands on deck as far as pitching goes," he said. "This is for the regional title. Everyone has to be ready. Even Nick [Evola]."
Evola started Wednesday's semifinal win against Ottawa and threw right around 100 pitches in his five innings.
"All year, our pitching and defense has gone hand in hand. Our pitchers throw strikes and the defense feeds off of that. Our kids in the field are not only skilled, but they are very intelligent players. They can read and react to odd situations very quickly, and that's been a huge thing for us."
One of the stalwarts of the defense is shortstop Trevor Lines, who will take his skills and his 36 ACT smarts to Creighton next year. But, this year isn't over yet.
"We think it will be a tight game against L-P," Lines said. "It was the last time we played them [Morris won 6-4]. The huge thing for us is that it's at home. We play very well here and we know all the subtleties of the field. Plus, there should be a good crowd. We have a lot of guys who were on the team that made it to the regional title game last year, so that helps, too.
"We felt like we had some high expectations for ourselves at the start of the year. Then we got outscored 21-2 in the first two games and it woke us up. We knew we weren't just going to show up and win games. We had to keep working hard, and that's what we've been doing. We want to make all the plays on defense and force them to do something to beat us. At bat, we want to put the ball in play hard and make them make plays."