AKRON, Ohio (WCMH) — New Albany and Bloom-Carroll each will play for their second state baseball championships this weekend when they take part in the state tournament semifinals.
The Bulldogs are back in the Division II final four for the first time since 2014, when they won their only state championship.
“We just worked our butts off to get to this place, and we’re ready for it,” Bloom-Carroll junior Beau Wisecarver said.
Meanwhile, the Eagles won their first regional championship since 2004, which was also the same year they won their only state championship. New Albany played in Division III then, so the Eagles are playing in the Division I final four for the first time.
“It’s crazy. I mean, you walk down the halls and you see all their stuff hanging up [from 2004], you see all the accomplishments they had,” New Albany senior Ian Hoff said. “We want to be a part of that history and make history for ourselves.”
Making history is something players from both teams thought they had a chance to do last year before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Missing that season was huge for us,” Bloom-Carroll senior Joshua Moore said. “I think we would’ve had another great shot at a state title last year and a lot of us just worked really, really hard as a team in the offseason and came ready to play this year.”
New Albany senior Brock Tibbitts said he’s been in contact with seniors from last year’s team who have been following along during the Eagles’ postseason success.
“I’ve told them that we’re playing for them and for their lost year and then for 2019 for not going as far as we wanted,” Tibbitts said. “We want to keep their legacy going.”
New Albany coach Dave Starling knows a thing or two about legacy after coaching at Reynoldsburg for 27 years. He’s now in his sixth year with the Eagles.
“This senior group, our captains lead by example and they’re going to leave a legacy that the younger players here are going to build off of, that’s for sure,” Starling said.
Bloom-Carroll coach Jason Vest is in his fifth year and was an assistant in 2014 when the Bulldogs won their state championship.
“They really pull for each other, they love each other, and they fight for each other,” Vest said. “They pick each other up and lift each other up every day and I think that’s what I’ll remember about this group.”