Drake Westcott slugs a home run
In 24 years as a baseball coach, including the last 21 at Edwardsville High School, Tim Funkhouser has accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish.
Leader of one of the top programs in the state, coach Tim Funkhouser and the Edwardsville Tigers will attempt to win an elusive state championship beginning at 5 p.m. Friday when they take on the Hampshire Whip-Purs in a Class 4A state semifinal at Joliet Route 66 Stadium in Joliet.
The trip to the state tournament is the 16th in school history for Edwardsville (36-5) and seventh under Funkhouser, who led the Tigers to second place finishes in 2002 and in 2017. With a win over Hampshire and a victory in the state title game on Saturday, the Tigers would have their first state championship since 1998 when coach Tom Pile led them to a 40-0 record, the Class AA state title and finished the year ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation.
Two more wins would also give Funkhouser 700 for his coaching career.
“Somebody mentioned that the other day that if we won two more games that it would be 700. If it happens, it would be great because it would mean that we won state title. But we’re not looking at it like that right now,” Funkhouser said. “This team has done a great job of staying in the moment. One game at a time. Right now we’re focused on Hampshire.
“We don’t really know much about them yet. But they are one of four teams playing in the state tournament semifinals on Friday. I’m sure they are a solid team and we’ll have to play well.”
St. Charles North will take on Chicago St. Rita in the first semifinal beginning at 3 p.m. The two winners will play for the state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday. The third place game begins at 3 p.m.
Champions of the Southwestern Conference, Edwardsville enters the state tournament on an eight-game winning streak. The Tigers got a masterful shutout effort from ace Matthew Boyer in a 4-0 sectional semifinal win over Belleville West and a two home run effort from junior Drake Westcott in the 12-8 win over Normal West in the sectional title game on Saturday.
Edwardsville won the Class 4A Lincoln-Land Super-Sectional, beating Chicago Marist 6-5 in a battle of state ranked powers on Monday.
Head Coach: Tim Funkhouser (24th season, 698-192)
Classification Enrollment: 2366
Last Year’s Advancement: Lost to O’Fallon (H.S.), 6-5, in Regional Final
Key Players: 1B: Drake Westcott (.390, HR-9 RBI-38) OF: Hayden Moore (.391, HR-4 RBI-26;); IF: Max Ringering (..358, HR-4 RBI-32); SS: Josh Ohl (. .371 RBI-18) P: Matthew Boyer (10-1, 3.85 ERA); P: Grant Schaefer (7-1, 1.65 ERA)
State Tournament History: This is Edwardsville’s 16th strip to the state finals)
Head Coach: Frank Simoncelli (2nd season, 35-36)
Classification Enrollment: 1636
Conference: Fox Valley
Last Year’s Advancement: Lost to Machesney Park (Harlem), 5-4, in Regional Semifinal
Key Players: 1B; Matt Jachec (.381., HR-4 RBI-29); SS: Gavin Kriegel (.371, HR-4 RBI-31); 2B; Caden Pszyca ( ..317, HR-2 RBI-26) P: Matt Jachec (7.3, .061 ERA); P: Logan Nespor (6-1, 2.77 ERA)
State Tournament History: This is Hampshire’s first trip to the state tournament
Chicago St. Rita (34-6)
Head coach: John Nee (2nd season, 55-23)
Classification Enrollment: 1897.5
Conference: Chicago Catholic
Last Year’s Advancement: Lost to Chicago (Brother Rice), 15-11, in Sectional Semifinal
Key Players: SS: Jalen Greer (.364 HR-8 RBI-45); OF Gavin Mottl (.340, HR-4 RBI-34); C: Luke Napleton (.365, HR-4 RBI-36) P: Vic Agullar (9-3, 2.38 ERA); P: Diego Koval (7-1, 2.18 ERA)
State Tournament History: This is St.. Rita’s sixth trip to the state finals
St. Charles North (28-10)
Head Coach: Todd Genke (15 years, 401-136)
Classification Enrollment: 2022
Nickname: North Stars
Colors: Royal Blue/Black
Last Year’s Advancement: Lost to Roselle (Lake Park), 3-2, in Regional Final
Key Players: SS: Nick Demarco (.385, HR -6 RBI-38;); 3B: Egon Hein (.4.36, HR-3 RBI-36;); OF: Pat Bellock (.336, RBI-38.);l P: Johnny Lambert (6-0, 1.71 ERA); P: John Hamer (6-1, 4.12 ERA)
State Tournament History: This is St. Charles North’s second trip to the state finals