While two area baseball teams hope to make deep playoff runs again, two more are looking for their first victories in the state tournament.
The high school baseball regional playoffs start today, and the six local teams beginning the postseason push have had varying degrees of success recently.
Naples High and Estero won district championships last week and will host regional quarterfinals. Both teams advanced to the regional finals last season and will do their best to go farther in the playoffs this year.
“We have to go out there and keep our hype up and not let down,” Naples senior Blaze Vazquez said. “We just have to go out and perform.”
The Golden Eagles (20-6) host Cape Coral-Baker today. Gulf Coast, which Naples beat for its first district title since it won state in 2009, travels to Cape Coral-Island Coast.
Gulf Coast (22-5) was the No. 1 seed in the Class 6A-District 14 tournament but lost in the final, ending an 11-game winning streak. First-year coach Pete Garcia, who led the Sharks to regionals for the first time since 2009, said it’s important to overcome the loss.
“There’s a bump in the road, you go over that bump. There’s a fork in the road, you take the fork,” Garcia said. “We’re going to get to the end of the road. Hard work takes care of itself.”
First Baptist (10-14) won its second straight district title last week. Now the Lions are searching for their first regional victory today when they host Sarasota Christian (25-1).
Seacrest (17-10) also is in regionals for the second time. Like First Baptist, the Stingrays also have never won a regional game. They play North Palm Beach-Benjamin at home Thursday.
“Benjamin is one of the better teams in the state in Class 3A,” Seacrest coach Mark Marsala said. “We’re going to have to play our best game to get through this.”
Lely (14-8) lost to Estero in the Class 5A-District 14 championship. By finishing runner-up, the Trojans secured a second straight trip to regionals after ending an 18-year drought last season. They haven’t won in the state tournament since 1994.