CHERRY — In nine years at the helm of the Cherry High School baseball team, Tiger coach Brian Kemp has never seen a team having more fun.
There’s something to be said for that and how it relates to success.
Cherry is riding that deep into the playoffs, as it finished 2-0 on Tuesday and will now play in Silver Bay in round three of the Section 7A Tournament, beginning at 4:30 p.m. today in Proctor.
According to Kemp, he could see a difference in this team over past teams.
“They’re having fun,” Kemp said. “When I walked onto the field (Tuesday), I looked at Nick (Peterson) and said, ‘We’re going to win two,’” Kemp said. “Their attitudes were awesome. They were ready to go.
“That’s something we haven’t seen a lot in the nine years we’ve been coaching here.
“There was something special about Tuesday and how it felt. Hopefully, that carries over into today.”
Having fun might help, but it takes solid play in the field to succeed. That’s exactly what the Tigers got defensively.
“We didn’t make an error, OK, maybe one in two games,” Kemp said. “Our defense was phenomenal. Our infield was flawless. The kids brought their intensity, and they’re having fun.”
Cherry will be taking on a Mariners that has beaten them three times this season, so Kemp is familiar with Silver Bay’s lineup.
“I’m sure we’ll get their best in (Ero) Wallin,” Kemp said. “They will get our best with Beau (Barry). It’s an evenly-matched game. Whoever executes and does the little stuff right will win today.”
The Tigers will have to figure out a way to beat Wallin.
“He beat us twice this year,” Kemp said. “He pounds the strike zone. We had a lot of good swings, but we hit it right at guys. He’s one of the best pitchers in the section, and one of the best hitters.
“He’s a big part of what they do.”
Kemp will need Barry to be just as efficient as Walling.
“I need him to pitch like we know he can pitch,” Kemp said. “It’s been a tale of two Beaus this season. He can beat anybody when he’s on, but when he’s off, we’ll still be in the game.
“If we get the best Beau, we’ll be in good shape.”
Kemp couldn’t remember the year Cherry went 2-0, but he knows Colten Herring and Devin Mayry were on the that team.
To go 3-0, that would set the Tigers up well for the rest of the playoffs.
“This is a big step for our kids and program,” Kemp said. “They know they can beat these teams and be successful against good competition. If Beau wins this game, we can recharge him and throw him in the semifinals.
“To get to the section final and having to lose twice, is huge. We have to have fun and play the way we’re capable of playing. I’m not worried about our defense and pitching, but we need clutch hits. Someone, or two of them, have to get some big hits.”