WATSEKA – When he gets his next cell phone bill, Darin Hartman might cringe a little.
"I keep telling everyone that I'm way over my texting package this month, same with my minutes," the Watseka baseball coach said.
That's what happens when you lead your team to its first berth in the Class 2A state semifinals and pick up your 200th career victory in the process.
The congratulatory messages and phone calls have come from friends, family, acquaintances and fans as the Warriors have stormed their way to five consecutive postseason victories to earn a matchup against defending 2A champion Stanford Olympia today at Joliet's Silver Cross Field.
"The town is just buzzing right now. It's just been totally awesome. Businesses have their windows painted, and they have signs up and everything," the 11th-year head coach said. "We're going to have a fire truck escort out of town on a flatbed. Then we're going to get on a bus on the edge of town and head to Joliet."
Drew Watts will get the start in the semifinal against the Spartans. The hard-throwing right-hander is 10-1 this season with a 0.95 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 74 innings. At the plate, Seth Woods (10 home runs), Brede Parker (eight homers) and Sawyer Harris (.429 batting average) will do what they can to dethrone Olympia.
"Our kids look at it as a challenge, and they're really up for that. We've been doing that through the sectional and the super. They're confident, but they know that our pitchers are going to give us a chance to win," Hartman said. "We're going to go out and we're going to give everything we've got, and wherever it falls, it falls. We know whenever we go out that it takes a darn good team to beat us."