The Evangel baseball team now knows their path as the Eagles try to corral their third straight state championship.
But the Eagles have something this season that they haven’t had in the past — a No. 1 seed.
Evangel begins its Class 3A playoffs as the top seed, and the Eagles (19-9) host No. 32 Lusher Charter (14-13) in the first round.
Ryne Ray and Hunter Shaw lead a powerful lineup while Shaw and Blake Buckman are two of multiple consistent arms.
Some game dates and times haven’t been finalized as the brackets were released Tuesday afternoon.
Evangel is one of five “Class A” teams to earn a first-round home game.
In Class 2A, No. 10 Calvary (19-12) and No. 11 Lakeside (18-8) will play in the confines of their own stadiums.
The Cavaliers host No. 23 DeQuincy (16-8) as the home team enters the playoffs winning five of their last six. Calvary won the second game against Lakeside to split the District 1-2A title.
Coach Todd Walker said the Cavs have relied on pitching most of the season, but when his team is able to move runners, they’ve been successful.
“We’re going to pitch well and throw strikes, but we can be good when we catch the ball and get timely hits,” Walker said. “We played really well (to beat Lakeside on the road), and we caught the ball and got bunts down.
“We haven’t swung the bats well all year, but we’ve won when we’ve been able to get timely hits.”
Jake Krews has been steady on the mound this season with Nick Adcock and Garrett Kochakian providing depth.
That loss was Lakeside’s lone defeat in its last nine games, which includes a season-ending 9-1 win against Evangel.
The Warriors will host No. 22 Dunham (17-14) on Friday at 5 p.m.
“This team has gotten better every time it’s been on the field, and this is a great group of kids that play well together,” said Lakeside coach Bob Gray. “We had a great day (Saturday) against Evangel … and we’ve been waiting for the bats to wake up like that after seeing the kids hit well in practice and BP.
“The pitching and the defense has been good all year long. Dunham is a really good team, but our team has the potential to go far.”
Logan Clark is hitting an astounding .575 this season with Trent Geis, Luke Griffith, Josh Prince and Coulson White all hitting over .400. Cameron Gray and Griffith lead a talented pitching staff.
Two other teams hit the road in Class 3A No. 21 North Webster (12-12) heading to No. 12 St. Louis Catholic (16-15) and Class 2A No. 31 Many (14-13) going to No. 2 Runnels (16-4).
Four area Class 1A teams will meet each other in the first round.
Defending state champion Cedar Creek (23-4) is a No. 4 seed hosting No. 29 Logansport (29-11). St. Mary’s (15-13), the No. 8 seed, welcomes No. 25 Haynesville (9-6).
Florien (18-6) leads the Class B contingency as the No. 2 Blackcats host No. 31 Saline (2-16) on Thursday at 5 p.m. Also at home, No. 7 Stanley (16-8) takes on No. 26 Dodson (7-9); Nno. 11 Converse hosts No. 22 Glenmora (8-12) and No. 13 Zwolle (10-9) welcomes No. 20 Castor (9-9).
Doyline (10-15), the No. 29 seed, hits the road against No. 4 Anacoco (17-5).
Two area Class C teams get home games in the round of 16 as No. 4 Summerfield (9-12) hosts No. 13 Hackberry (9-8) and No. 8 Ebarb (7-10) hosts No. 9 Reeves (10-12).