Both Vilonia and St. Joseph have flown brilliantly under the radar and enter Saturday’s Centennial Bank state championship baseball games on a roll.
Vilonia (24-11) will play Magnolia (27-1) for the 5A title at 12:30 p.m. at the University of Arkansas’s Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
St. Joseph ((17-9) will take on Spring Hill (24-9) in the next game at 3 p.m.
The Eagles will take on one of the top-ranked teams in their division.
“They love the fact that nobody thinks they are gonna do it,” said Vilonia coach Brad Wallace. “They love that people keep counting us out and believes everyone else has all the players.”
Despite the 11 losses and a slow start, the Eagles have seemed to be peaking at the right time.
“We played and orchestrated the toughest schedule we’ve ever played since I’ve had at Vilonia,” Wallace said. “We played out of state for the first time and we loaded up on a lot of 6A schools. Just playing Greenbrier in our conference was tough. Throwing against that lineup is a challange.”
The Eagles fought their way through the state tournament with two straight walkoff, extra-inning victories to get to the championship game.
“We’ve got one more day,” said Wallace.
Vilonia last won a state baseball title in 1998.
One interesting aspect of the 2A title game its its a matchup of two No. 3 seeds in the region.
St. Joseph has already defeated the top two seeds (Parkers Chapel and Camden Harmony Grove) from the South Region.
“Everybody knows that to win in 2A, you’ve got to go through the South,” said St. Joseph coach Luke Davis. “That’s where the power is, year-end and year-out.”
Spring Hill’s Josh Winfield is one of the top hitters in the state, batting about .550 with 10 home runs.
“Both have seen really good teams,” Davis said. “Conway Christian and Magazine were both tough in our region. And Spring Hill is from that tough South.”
St. Joseph last won the 2A title in 2013.