By: Wells Dusenbury
Martin County remembers the feeling all too well.
Despite the baseball team recording its best regular season in school history at 24-1, the Tigers have refused to get ahead of themselves with district tournaments kicking off this week.
Last year, Martin County put up an almost equally impressive regular season, finishing the year with a 17-3 record. The Tigers looked set to roll through their district tournament with their semifinal match-up against Port St. Lucie, a team they had beaten twice in the regular season by a combined score of 29-3.
But when the teams hit the diamond, everything went wrong.
"We probably thought we were going to cruise through districts," said Chad Rowley. "We blew it last year."
The Tigers were upset in stunning fashion by Port St. Lucie, with their season ending with an unthinkable 9-0 defeat.
"Since the beginning of the season that's been on our minds," pitcher Steven Fleming said. "We kind of embarrassed ourselves last year."
Last year's sudden exit has served as the Tigers' rallying cry throughout the season amidst the team's historic run.
"It's been an overriding factor all year," said head coach Jerry Smith. "We remember that game very much. It's in the forefront of our minds."
That extra focus has paid off as the team's been lights out thought the year. The Tigers kicked off the season with 10 straight wins, before falling to Miami-Coral Reef 5-3 on March 13. That would be the only time the team ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard this year. Martin County rebounded from that loss with 14 consecutive wins to end the regular season.
Despite all the accolades they've accomplished this year, the Tigers' constantly remind themselves of last year's bitter defeat and how quickly it can all come crashing down.
"We use it everyday," said catcher Danny Hudzina. "We think back to last year and we don't want the same thing to happen."
"We want to go forward and get as far as we can."
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