A lot can stop a postseason run in baseball — a rainout that ruins a favorable pitching matchup, an uncharacteristic bout of wildness from a usually dependable pitcher, or a bad hop that turns a 1-2-3 inning into the inning that does in your season.
The following is a list of 10 teams that might have what it takes to manage the mine field that is the postseason. Not all will make it to state — probably not more than four at the most, and maybe none. But no one wants to face any of these teams before the state tournament.
No team in the state has been better in the postseason the last decade than Teutopolis.
In the last nine years, the Shoes are 51-6 in the postseason, including 36-0 in the regionals. They own three state titles in that time.
This year, T-Town is 20-8-1, but its only loss to another Class 2A team was Robinson — a team the Wooden Shoes could face in the sectional round.
There's plenty of firepower in the Shoes' lineup, including Dawson Smith (.356, 31 runs scored), Clint Weber (.330, seven doubles and three home runs) and Trenton Schwerdt (.337, five doubles and three home runs). But it's the pitching once again carrying T-Town. Smith has a 0.58 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. Schwerdt (1.42 ERA) and Mitch Hemmen (1.04 ERA) have also been outstanding.
The Warriors have had some close games, but have put down every team smaller than Class 3A they've faced this season on their way to a 24-2 record.
Tuscola has big-time power — 33 home runs as a team, including nine by Cade Kresin. But what makes the Warriors a true contender for the state title is the pitching duo of Logan Tabeling (1.35 ERA, 91 strikeouts in 41.1 innings) and Lucas Kresin (0.93 ERA, 53 strikeouts to three walks in 37.2 innings).
While the Class 2A postseason is no cakewalk, Tuscola has already played one of its likely sectional opponents in St. Joseph-Ogden (11-5 Tuscola win)
It's been a renaissance season behind a group of seniors who paid their dues. The Hilltoppers were coming off three straight losing seasons, but this year's team has 20 wins for the first time since 2005.
But it's not just the wins, it's the way Mount Pulaski has been winning. There was Todd Kelly's perfect game on May 3, then Kelly's game-winning triple in his next start. Add in heroics by Ben Fricke, Logan DeRight, Drew Martin and Tanner Farris, and this year's team has the talent and flair for the dramatic to win its first sectional title since 2004.
Effingham St. Anthony
The Bulldogs are 20-5 in Tony Kreke's first season and playing well heading into the postseason following a doubleheader split with Effingham and a win against Cumberland.
Blake Niebrugge and Gavin Braunecker leads a solid pitching staff that gets tons of run support from an offense that's led by Bryson Wall, Kaden Fearday and Colin Koester.
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Trojans coach Sean Martin won his 350th career game this season, and this could potentially be the best Maroa team of his 22 years.
Martin has been concerned about his team's defense at times, but pitching and offense aren't problems. Aaron Agee and Ian Benner are the type of one-two mound combination that can take a team far. Plus, both are solid hitters and, along with Tre Corley, give Maroa (14-2) a loaded lineup.
The Trojans can win their third regional title in four years, but have their eyes on their first sectional title since the 1995 state team.
The Sages had a rough stretch in late March-early April, but have played better since and will be dangerous in the Class 2A postseason.
Brody Macak and Andrew Rudolph give the Sages solid arms, while Alek Bundy, Asher Bradd, Jake Edmondson and Macak are capable of producing runs for the offense.
The Lions (13-10) didn't rack up as many wins as they did in the last three seasons, but don't rule out LSA as a team that could rack up some postseason wins.
Mike Fiala and Coby Crafton are experienced players who have been through the postseason battles, while freshman Gannon Harshman gives the Lions an ace capable of shutting down an opponent in a big game.
In his first season as Mattoon's coach, longtime Eastern Illinois baseball coach Jim Schmitz has the Green Wave playing its best baseball behind pitchers Jackson Nichols and Hayden Birdsong.
Apollo rival Effingham won't be an easy team to get past at regionals, and Champaign Central looms in sectionals. But with two aces and punch in the lineup, the Green Wave have what it takes to make noise as a three seed.
The Maroons got of to a scoring start, winning 16 of their first 17. That included a 5-3 win against Teutopolis on April 9.
Robinson (20-6) hasn't played poorly since, going 4-5 in its last nine against tough competition, but doesn't have the postseason pedigree of the other top 2A teams. Juniors Kade Lassen (12 extra-base hits) and Brayden Childress will be tough outs for any 2A pitching.
Mark Jackley's first season at Cumberland has delivered one of the best regular seasons in school history — a 21-3 record.
Brayson Shew and Justin Brown have been a big part of the turnaround. But Cumberland has never won a regional in baseball, and it won't be easy this year playing at Nokomis and likely facing the formidable host in the regional title.