St. Edward ready for playoff push

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Loaded with young talent, St. Edward burst out of the gates with seven straight wins to start the season before eventually cooling off as it made its way through the Suburban Christian Conference schedule.

The ups and downs of the regular season will be nothing more than an afterthought this week, though, as the Green Wave tries to accomplish its primary objective at the Class 2A Westminster Christian Regional.

“The most important thing is to win a regional,” St. Edward coach Tim Dovichi said. “Every year we’re trying to push for that, whether we’re young or not.”

St. Edward (18-5) last claimed a regional title in 2009, but it has had its share of close calls since, losing in regional championship games each of the past three years.

The Green Wave has only two seniors in its regular lineup this spring, but experience isn’t an issue considering most of its starters returned from last season. The familiarity with postseason pressure is one reason why St. Edward thinks it can break through this week, but significant challenges stand in the way.

The Green Wave owns the No. 2 seed going into its playoff opener against No. 3 Aurora Christian in the semifinals Thursday.

Aurora Central Catholic is the No. 1 seed, and it will play Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s play-in game between No. 4 North Boone and No. 5 Westminster Christian.

St. Edward defeated Aurora Christian 12-8 in early April, but the Eagles (10-15) certainly won’t be a pushover as they seek their third straight regional championship. If the Green Wave survives its semifinal contest, Aurora Central Catholic (18-5) could be looming in the title game. St. Edward lost to the Chargers 5-4 and 3-0 during the regular season.

“I’ve stressed to the guys the third time could be the charm,” Dovichi said. “You never know.”

This spring’s bad weather wreaked havoc on almost every team’s schedule, but Westminster Christian has been hit particularly hard. The Warriors played only 19 regular-season games. To put that in perspective, their program won at least 18 games each of the past six years.

First-year coach Tim Dunderdale has tried to make the most of his team’s stop-and-go schedule, and Westminster Christian owns a 10-9 record going into the playoffs.

Will Woodhouse and John Wawro are the only seniors on the roster for the Warriors, and they are also the last two holdovers from the 2010 Westminster Christian team that won the Class 1A state championship.

Other than that the Warriors are dominated by underclassmen, with sophomores Tyler Mamrot, Chase Woods and Frank Angiulo breaking out as some of the program’s most promising youngsters.

“It’s all about learning right now,” Dunderdale said. “We’ve got a lot of young players and we don’t have anything to lose. We want our guys to learn as much as they can about the playoff experience.”

St. Edward will be trying to send senior starters Jacob Koehring and Antonio Domel out on a high note. Koehring, an Indiana Tech recruit, is part of a formidable pitching staff that includes a trio of sophomores in Jake Lafrenz, Jack Tierney and Scott Palmer.

Tierney joins juniors Mikey Castoro and Tighe Koehring as the top hitters for a productive offense that averages over six runs per game.

“We definitely will lean on our pitching staff in the playoffs,” Dovichi said. “We need those guys to keep the other team off balance and off the bases, and then we need our offense to keep doing what it has been doing all season.”

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