LANCASTER, Ohio — They say that 13 could possibly be the unluckiest of numbers.
In all fairness to the modern era, the previous seven haven’t gone too well either.
The Southern baseball team will look to exorcise some demons while chasing another piece of history this Thursday and Friday during the 2019 Division IV Region 15 Championships being played at Beavers Field in Fairfield County.
The Tornadoes (18-7) have been to the regional tournament a dozen times before, which includes a six-year gap between the program’s last appearance in 2013 up until now.
The Purple and Gold had seven consecutive appearances in the regional tournament from 2007 through 2013, which included a pair of wins that resulted in regional final berths in 2010 and 2011.
Southern also had the misfortune of having each of those runs come to an end after seven consecutive losses to Newark Catholic over that span.
SHS also appeared in the regional tournament in 2000, 1996, 1993, 1988 and 1982.
Now, the Tornadoes find themselves in a position to scratch that seven-year itch in the Region 15 opener Thursday as they will face the Green Wave (21-9) at 2 p.m.
Newark Catholic battled through a monster regular season schedule that saw the Green and Gold go a mere 1-1 in mercy-rule outcomes while also going 3-1 in extra-inning affairs.
NCHS has posted a trio of mercy-rule shutouts in four postseason outings and also claimed a 5-3 decision over Fisher Catholic in the district championship game.
Newark Catholic reached double digits in only six contests this spring, posting a 4-2 mark in those outings. The Green Wave are also 3-0 this postseason when scoring 10-or-more runs.
Longtime NCHS coach John Cannizzaro picked up his 500th career victory on April 15 during a 4-3 win in eight innings over Utica.
The Green Wave are searching for their 17th trip to the state baseball tournament, and first since 2016. NCHS also won the last of its nine state titles in that same postseason run three years ago.
The Tornadoes, on the other hand, have only two state appearances in school history … and those came back in 1933 and 1938.
It is the first regional appearance for SHS under fourth-year head coach Kyle Wickline, and the Purple and Gold enter the matchup with a five-game winning streak. Southern also hasn’t allowed a postseason run since a 6-5 victory over Coal Grove in the sectional championship game.
Pitching and defense have played a solid part in Southern’s resurgence to the Sweet 16.
The Tornadoes have allowed only 48 earned runs out of a possible 77 scores in 159 innings of work. Opponents have 118 hits and 109 walks this season, but have also struck out 210 times.
SHS has posted a team ERA of 2.11 this spring and also has a fielding percentage of 92.4, having committed 40 errors in 524 total chances in the field.
Offensively, Southern has collectively posted a .314 batting average as a team, including 37 extra-base hits out of the 217 this season. The Purple and Gold have averaged 8.2 runs per game.
The second game of the Region 15 tournament will pair Toronto (23-5) against Huntington Ross (9-14) at approximately 5 p.m.
The Red Knights are no stranger to this position, having won their 25th consecutive sectional crown before advancing through districts last week.
THS is making its fourth straight regional appearance and has appeared in three state tournaments alltime, the last of which came in 2017. The Red Knights also won their lone state championship in 1998.
The Huntsmen are fresh off of the program’s first-ever district championship in baseball and will be making their initial appearance in the Sweet 16.
The winners from Thursday’s semifinal rounds will face one another in the Region 15 championship game at 5 p.m. Friday, again at Beavers Field.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.