Hastings Five Points Bank will have added motivation when it takes the field Wednesday night at the American Legion Mid-South Regional.
The first factor is the Chiefs' presence as the host team, which will certainly draw a large crowd to Duncan Field. The team also will be looking to make amends after an 0-2 performance at the recent Legion state tournament.
"I think both of those things are going to drive us," coach Blake Marquardt said. "There's a lot of excitement out here and I know the community is ready for this again."
Hastings was the site of the 2019 Mid-South Regional, where the Chiefs made a deep run before being ousted. After the lost pandemic year of 2020, Hastings will fulfill the final year of its two-year regional contract.
Marquardt is in his first season as Legion coach after guiding Hastings to a 20-7 mark and a state tourney berth during the spring varsity season.
"We definitely had a lot of positives in the spring and this summer," he said. "Overall the guys did a nice job."
The Chiefs rolled through the Legion A-7 area tournament, defeating North Platte for the title. That earned Hastings a trip to the American Division portion of the state tournament, where things didn't go as well.
Marquardt's squad lost to the team from Omaha Creighton Prep in its first game and was eliminated the next day by the team from Omaha Burke.
"Our team was a little displeased by the way things went," he said. "We didn't play up to our potential and we're ready to try it again."
Marquardt said pitching has been the team's strength, which should help Hastings the longer it can stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
"We have several guys who can give us five innings and a pretty strong bullpen," he said. "The longer we can stick around will be to our advantage."
The first test for the 29-13 Chiefs will come Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Washington, Missouri. That will be the last of four first-round games.
Marquardt was coaching the Hastings Junior Legion team in 2019 and was not part of the coaching staff at that regional, though he remembers the tourney well.
"We got great support and had great crowds," he said. "I know that we can count on that again."
His team hasn't played a game since July 25, but Marquardt said it feels no added pressure as the regional host.
"I don't think that will be a factor," he said. "We're just ready to get out there and start playing again."
Marquardt said he also is excited for Gretna, the state champion and the other Nebraska representative at the regional.
"I give them credit for making it," he said. "They always seemed to find a way to win, so we wish them luck out here."
Luke Brooks, Gabe Conant, Nick Conant, Daeton Espino, Daniel Espinoza, Kaden Evans, Isaiah Henry, Macrae Huyser, Creighton Jacobitz, Braden Kalvelage, Tyson Lebar, Brayden Mackey, Markus Miller, Cambren Montague, Justin Musgrave, Trayton Newman, Evan Rust, Kayleb Saurer.
The Mid-South Regional schedule (at Duncan Field, Hastings):
Wednesday — Pittsburg, Kansas vs. Oak Grove, Missouri, 10 a.m.; Dubuque County, Iowa vs. Grand Junction, Colorado, 1 p.m.; Cabot, Arkansas vs. Gretna, 4 p.m.; Washington, Missouri vs. Hastings Five Points Bank, 7.
Thursday — Losers bracket games at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; winners bracket games at 4 and 7.
Friday — Games at 1 p.m., 4 and 7.
Saturday — Games at 4 p.m. and 7.
Sunday — Championship 1 p.m. (if necessary, a second game to follow at 4).
Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.