MISSOULA, Mont. - We're down to our final week of play for Montana legion baseball teams, and the Missoula Mavericks have big goals at this week's state AA tournament in Lethbridge. It was a great regular season for the Mavs but despite recording the most conference wins in the state this summer, Missoula will settle for being the #2 seed, while the defending state champion Billings Royals took top conference honors. But with the top four teams all being within two games of each other this year, Missoula says this is a tournament where no team is safe.
"Everybody has good pitching but everyone has better hitting," said Mavs outfielder Tanner Rheinschmidt. "It's an all-around better hitting state. Everybody is really putting it together this year and I think that's going to make for a really great state tournament."
The Mavericks' first round opponent will be Medicine Hat at 12:30 on Tuesday. Missoula took three out of four games from the Moose Monarchs during conference play and they know Med Hat will be a good early test.
"We need to stay up and play all nine innings against them," said first baseman Shane Olson. "I mean they can swing it pretty good and they've got a couple good pitchers so they can beat anybody."
Missoula has placed second and third at the state tournament over the past two seasons. Several players on this year's AA roster played in those tournaments, and needless to say these veterans won't be satisfied with anything less than a title this time around.
"I know the kids last year remember getting second and I think that's just going to drive us even more to get to that championship game and hopefully win it this year," said Mavs pitcher and outfielder Ryan Anderson.
"This is pretty much the last time I'll ever be putting on the spikes again so I'm excited to see how it turns out," said Rheinschmidt. "And I've got a good feeling about it."