Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The American Legion AAA Regional Tournament begins Tuesday at Copeland Park in La Crosse, and the action gets going with a marquee matchup between Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire.
Eau Claire comes into the tourney ranked third in the state legion power rankings with a 20-3 record, and is riding a nine-game win streak. But two of Post 53's losses were to Post 77.
It is a double-elimination tourney, so these two teams could meet a second time over the next four days. Tuesday, each team will throw its ace: Tanner Halvorson (EC), and Trevor Olson (CF), who was on the mound for both of the Chippewa Falls wins over Eau Claire. Olson struck out 14 Eau Claire hitters on June 16, and 11 more on July 4.
"We've played them a lot this year, so they know what we have, we know what they have," Olson says, "but past games don't really mean anything now because it's the regional, it's winner take all, so you know, it's going to be a really exciting game tomorrow and you know, hopefully, we can play them again in the championship and make it to state. Yeah, good confidence level, we've had some great wins in these past couple weeks and we're just hoping to take that into tomorrow."
"Their confidence level should be high," says Chippewa Falls manager Drew Steinmetz about his team, "they've beaten Eau Claire two out of the three times, both times with Trevor pitching, and I don't think they should back down from anything, they should be ready for this game."
Chippewa Falls ends its regular season Monday night, with an 8-6 home win over River Falls.
Eau Claire comes into the regional tournament with plenty of momentum, including nine straight wins since that July 4 loss, and two invitational tourney wins over the past two weekends, but team Pizza Hut knows what its biggest challenge will be on Tuesday.
"We've done our homework and we know who we're facing on the mound on Tuesday," says Eau Claire manager Mark Faanes, "and we've seen him twice this summer, of course the guys in seen him in high school ball. We know we've got our work cut out for us, Trevor's a great pitcher."
"He's had our number a few times," says Eau Claire shortstop Zac Stange, "we know how phenomenal of a pitcher he is, he's going to throw hard, he's going to control his offspeed, but we know that we're just going to have to focus at the plate, focus on each individual role that we have on the team and go from there."
"We've just got to hold ourselves, hit the ball a little bit," says Eau Claire infielder / pitcher Lukas Gobrecht, "make them work and things will come out the way we want it to."
Eau Claire vs. Chippewa Falls is scheduled for a 4:00 P.M. start at Copeland Park, Tuesday. At 7:00 P.M., it'll be the host team facing Hudson.