Eau Claire (WQOW) -- For the third straight season, the Eau Claire North baseball program is making a trip to the WIAA state tournament. But unlike previous trips, the recipe for getting to Fox Cities Stadium is different this year.
In the previous two appearances, the Huskies have had a shutdown ace at the top of their rotation and a division one bat anchoring their lineup. This season, head coach Bob Johnson said it's his team's versatility that makes them dangerous.
"We've had a lot of different guys be successful on the mound for us. So that's one of the biggest factors right there. It's a pretty balanced lineup. If you look at the box scores from the playoffs, our bottom has done some damage at times, our top has done some damage," said Johnson.
"This one feels a little bit different, because there is not a lot of the core guys that we used to have on those previous state teams. So this one was like a really big team effort. We all had to come together and it just feels great," added senior outfielder Tucker Dillon.
The Huskies start their tournament journey with a quarterfinal game against Waunakee at 8:00 a.m. To be prepared for the early start time, the coaches adjusted their schedule, holding morning practices. With eight teams still alive and only one gold ball, Johnson said he wants his team prepared for anything.
"When I came in on our first practice on Thursday, I gave all of them something to improve on. I thought there were areas in everybody's game, including myself as the coach, that we could improve on. I wanted them to make sure, whatever happens this week, that there is no regrets at the end. That we're prepared to shine in the bright lights," said Johnson.