While their Dubois County cousins from Southridge are making their third straight trip to Indy's Victory Field next Tuesday . Jasper, a perennial power, is ending a 4-year absence from a game they had become synonomus with.
"Our goal every year is to try to win a sectional," said Jasper's Hall of Fame head baseball coach Terry Gobert, "then go as far as we can in the tournament, the ultimate goal is to get to the state championship game and try to win a state."
Such are the goals of most teams, but here at Jasper, the Wildcats have been able to make that ride to Indianapolis on several occasions under hall of fame head coach Terry Gobert. For some teams, living up to the pressures of a prestigious program can be overwhelming. For the 2021 edition, this squad embraces it.
"It's awesome," said Jasper senior catcher Ross Peter. "This year we had teams come in from the past, like the 96 team, then we honored Ray Howard. It's just great to see those guys come back and love being back around here with the players that are playing today."
"They look at teams that have done well, have made it to state, have won it, or got runner-up," said Gobert. "And it can put pressure on you, if you let it. I think our jobs as coaches is to diffuse that, because every team is a different team."
That may be, but this Jasper squad has already earned a place on the fence Ruxer Field, improving to 30-and-2 after mauling Mount Vernon-Fortville in a 17-2 shocker for the Semi-State title this past weekend. Something few outside the program thought was possible in the beginning, when the Wildcats were unranked at the start of the season.
"It's a big thing to be overlooked and I think that is a drive for us," said Jasper junior first baseman Connor Foley. "I think it motivates us to be better."
Besides the obvious success, another thing that has this Jasper resembling it's predecessors is it's tight-knit construction, conciously designed by Terry Gobert and his staff.
"We come together pretty well," said Peters. "A lot of us have played together for a long time, and I think that helps a lot, and just going out there and getting after it every day."
"If we come up short, it doesn't change our attitude towards these kids," said Gobert. "Our jobs as coaches, besides teaching all the fundamentals and about life and everything that goes with baseball is to make them the best team it can possibly be, get the best run we can and then look back and have no regrets."
Mission accomplished there, as Jasper is headed to the 4-A state title game next Tuesday, and while the object is always victory, Gobert believes this team is already a winner.
"I never guarentee "we're going to win or we're not going to win"," said Gobert, "but I know we're going to play hard and try play good baseball, but I'm more proud of these guys just for the way they've behaved, the way they compete. It's easy to put emphasis on wins and losses."