Jason Feddersen certainly enjoyed the thrill Tuesday when his three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Preston to a 5-4 win against Iowa Mennonite School in the Class 1A substate final at Iowa City West.
But he’s been on the other end, too, such as a loss in last year’s baseball state semifinals and the 2009 state semifinals in football.
It’s losses like those that helped persevere Tuesday and should help the Trojans in the upcoming week at the Iowa Class 1A baseball state tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines. The Trojans (22-11) enter as the fifth seeds and play No. 4 seed Coon Rapids-Bayard (29-5) in Monday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal matchup. A win likely would mean a rematch with unbeaten Martensdale-St. Marys, the team that beat Preston 10-2 in last year’s semifinals.
“All those setbacks make you stronger,” Feddersen said. “They build you up. They keep icewater in your veins for when something comes up that’s do or die. I like the setbacks. They make me stronger, they make the team stronger. It helps us in the long run. It’s going to help us for the rest of our lives knowing how it feels to fail.”
Of course, the Trojans would just as soon have everything go smoothly next week. They have plenty of experience back from last year’s team. Only Austin Hughes and Lucas Assenmacher are missing from that group, although Hughes, who was 13-4 as a pitcher and led the team with a .464 batting average was a huge loss.
“The experience should carry over a bit,” coach Mark Bormann said.
The Trojans also know what it’s like to play in the minor-league stadium, much bigger than most parks high school teams play in.
“We’ve got some experience out there,” catcher Blake Tebbe said.
They’re certainly tested in the drama department, too.
Before the comeback win Tuesday, they had beaten Midland 4-0 in the district final on a one-hitter by Colton Bormann and scored twice in the bottom of the seventh — including the game-winning single from Feddersen — a week ago Thursday in the district semifinals against East Central.
Bormann leads the pitching staff with a 5-4 record and 3.22 earned-run average, and his father and coach said he would get the start Monday.
Bormann also leads the offense with a .589 average, while Feddersen (.496, five home runs) and Alex Hinerichsen (.404, seven homers) both are above .400.
The bottom half of the lineup has really provided a spark lately, too. Tebbe (.314) started the seventh-inning comeback against IMS with a double, and Colin Larson (.294) and Craiton Andresen (.303) also have come up with some key hits.
Coon Rapids-Bayard is led by a trio of pitchers with a combined 22-3 record. Jacob Esdohr is 6-0 with an 0.73 ERA, while fellow senior Jay Carstens is 9-2 with a 0.91 ERA. Junior Gage Reis comes in 7-1 with 2.13 ERA.
Esdohr leads the offense with a .546 average, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 33 games, while Reis bats .431 and has five homers and 33 RBIs. Carstens (.366), Brendan McAlister (.356) and Zach Imler (.327) all carry solid averages, too.