"It's a good feeling, but at the same time we have to understand its one game at a time and the only game that matter to us is Frankton at 11 a.m.," South Putnam head coach Chris Jones said. "If we can win that, then we can focus on some other things. It's nice to be closer to our goal than we've even been before, but we're not going to be satisfied with being close to our goal. We want to reach our goal."
The Eagles have cut through the 2011 tournament season, outscoring their opponents 37-1 and putting themselves in prime position to make a run at a state title. Jones said the team just needs to get in a couple solid practices before Saturday and then it's just a matter of staying focused and taking care of business.
"I think it enhances the focus a little bit because it almost becomes a microscope type of focus. You really have to bring that intensity every inning, every at-bat, because the quality of opponents just increase. The farther you get in the tournament, everyone's good," Jones said.
Jones said his Eagles will need to focus every inning and not let one mistake lead to more. Jones also said it was nice standing on the practice field later in the year that ever before.
"It's excited to get to practice in June. We haven't been able to practice in June since I've been here and so it's nice to still be practicing softball in June with the opportunity to keep playing later this month," Jones said.
The Eagles have experience great success since the current junior class has taken the field. In fact, in their three years, they've amassed a record of 68-4, two sectional titles and a regional title. This weekend, they look to add the semi-state hardware to their collection.
According to Jones the success South Putnam has experience solely belongs to the efforts of the girls on the team.
"It's the girls," Jones said. "The girls love softball and they come very day and work hard. They work hard in the off-season, they stay after for extra work, they do extra hitting, fielding -- they love the game. And their passion and love for the game is shown through the way they play the game with the effort, intensity and focus they bring.
The group of girls that really got us rolling, I feel like for me, was this junior group. They kind of got us with my first year and started well, 19-0 in the regular season, kind of set a precedent for what we wanted to do. Didn't accomplish what we wanted to in the postseason and I think that fired us up for last year," he added.
He also acknowledged the efforts of the incoming classes and how they were right in step with what the current class of juniors set in motion.
"And then that group that is now sophomores came in and they jumped on board and were right with what we wanted to do. We had more success in the postseason, getting the opportunity to fight for a regional championship. But again, not winning that fueled our fire for this year. So, I don't want anything to fuel our fire for next year. I want to accomplish our main goal. I want to be playing in Indianapolis at Ben Davis in a couple weekends. But to do that, we need to beat Frankton on Saturday morning," Jones said.
Jones once again praised the support he and his team have received for the parent and members of the community. He said it's a big part of their success and can't wait to see the turnout at Saturday's contest.
Up first for the Eagles will be Frankton and Jones expects a tough contest. Frankton has the kind of tournament experience that helps shape good programs and Jones knows it could be a dogfight.
"I know Frankton is a good program," Jones said. "They won a state championship in Class A a few years back. Their coach has been there for about 13 years now, so he's got a nice program and tradition. They've got some postseason experience because they were in the semi-state championship last year against Linton and they lost 6-5, which was comparable to what we lost to Linton in the regional."
Jones said he's been told Frankton is defensively sound, they put the ball in play and don't strikeout much. But he thinks if his team plays to its potential, good things should happen.
"We have to come with our game and be disciplined and patient at the plate," Jones said. "Defensively, make plays behind Brooke and get runs how we can and when we can. If we keep hitting the ball the way we have in the past, I like what we can do offensively. Then defensively, with our focus and the way Brooke has been able to pitch in the state tournament, I like our chances with that."
South Putnam will play Frankton to open the Forest Park Semi-state Saturday at 11 a.m.