VFW starts bid for state championship Thursday

The VFW team poses for a picture after capturing the District 6 championship last Tuesday. Monti will make its second-ever state tournament appearance starting with a 5 p.m. game Thursday. (Photo by Clay Sawatzke)
The VFW team poses for a picture after capturing the District 6 championship last Tuesday. Monti will make its second-ever state tournament appearance starting with a 5 p.m. game Thursday. (Photo by Clay Sawatzke)

This Thursday, the 2017 Monticello VFW team will become just the second in program history to make a state tournament appearance. Monti, which qualified by way of winning District 6, is set to square off with the winner of Centennial and Winona at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Coach Joe Rosh did not shy away from his expectations for Monti at state, following a dominant performance in the District 6 tournament.

“The expectation, and I think I would speak for the players, is to win the state tournament, said Rosh, last Tuesday evening. “I think we have the team to do it.”

“We’ve shown no signs of weakness all season. One time this year we had a bad inning. One bad inning, out of all the innings we’ve played, one bad inning where the wheels fell off,” said Rosh. “So, I would expect us to compete for the state title, and our expectations are to win the state title.”

Even with the lofty goals, the players know it will have to happen one game at a time.

“Win the first game, that’s it,” said Alex Otto, of the team’s mindset as they prepare from state. “We gotta go there ready to play.”

Monti is one of six teams that receives a first-round bye in the 10-team state tournament, which will be held in Willmar from Thursday until Sunday this weekend. If Monti wins its first game, they will advance to play at noon Friday. If they lose the first game, they would play at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The tournament is a double-elimination tournament with the championship game scheduled to be held at noon Sunday.

The other seven teams in the 10-team state tournament are: Luverne, Duluth East, Woodbury Red, Rochester Stars, New Ulm Gold, and Fergus Falls.

While they’ll go in with dreams of winning it, Monti is also well aware of just how special a feat it is to be at the VFW State Tournament.

“This one is special,” said Rosh. “VFW Baseball is a very authentic state tournament. There’s not Class A, Class B, Class C, there’s no let’s have a qualifier on the weekend. What we did, it’s very authentic. We’re the best team, big school, small school, in our area.”

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]