Omaha North has perhaps the most incentive of any team heading into Monday’s district baseball tournaments.
The 11-4 Vikings are hoping to end the longest state tournament drought among Metro Conference teams. North hasn’t been to state since 1964, but the Vikings — ranked eighth in Class A — have a real shot this year.
“I think this is the most talented team we’ve had,” coach Mike Greene-Walsh said. “I feel good about where our team is at right now.”
North begins A-3 district play against Lincoln East on Monday at 3:30 p.m. at Millard West. A victory would propel the Vikings into the district final at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Millard West-Norfolk game.
NSAA officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the districts, delayed by rain last week, will go on as scheduled Monday and Tuesday. The only district that was able to play Saturday was Class B-2 at Lincoln’s Sherman Field.
Like the other teams in the state, the Vikings have had their share of games affected by weather. Ten were postponed, and that doesn’t include the Metro Conference tournament that also was washed away.
“We’ve had so many games rained out that we’ve really tried to focus on the ones we’ve gotten in,” Greene-Walsh said. “It’s been tough on the players because it’s been hard to get into a groove.”
North finished the season strong, winning six of seven. That included two victories against Bellevue West, which has been ranked in Class A much of the season.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors and they have a lot of motivation,” Greene-Walsh said. “They want this to be a special season for us.”
Many of those seniors also competed on the football team that finished as the Class A runner-up to Millard North in the fall.
“I think the success we had during football has rubbed off in baseball,” Greene-Walsh said. “And I think coming up just short spurred these guys on this spring.”
In a recent 7-4 victory against the Thunderbirds, several ex-football players played key roles. Conner Phillips scored twice, Zach Martin had two RBIs and Casey Sayles was on base three times.
The Vikings are seeking to reach state for the third time. They finished as the Class AA runners-up in 1942 (losing to Omaha Creighton Prep 5-1 in the final) and lost in the first round in 1964 (9-3 against the now-closed Archbishop Ryan High School).
A district title would guarantee North’s trip to state, but the Vikings also have a shot at one of the two wild cards.
“It’s nice to have some success with the baseball program this spring,” Greene-Walsh said. “We’re not used to that, but we want to keep it going.”
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