Tabor looking for redemption after last year's title lossThe failure in last year’s state championship game has been put behind Tabor.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
The failure in last year’s state championship game has been put behind Tabor.
At least Tabor player/manager Gary Kortan says so.
Tabor won its first four games of the tournament in 2011 to earn its first championship game appearance since 1947, the only other year the town has made the title game.
But as soon as Tabor took the field, Crofton, Neb., took a commanding lead en route to claiming the championship trophy. Crofton scored seven first-inning runs and won 11-8. The loss gave Tabor its second runner-up finish in team history.
“I think we’ve let that go,” said Kortan, who pitched 20 2/3 innings with three wins on the mound in last year’s state tournament run, held at Mitchell’s Cadwell Park as it is again this year.
Tabor (14-7) gets its first action back on Cadwell at the state tournament since last year’s title-game loss. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Tabor plays the Renner Old Timers on Cadwell in a first-round matchup.
Although the team has a different look to it this year, the goal hasn’t changed. Tabor’s gunning for a title again.
“It’s going to be a lot harder this year,” Kortan said. “We lost five starters on offense and we don’t have the depth or production we had last year. Do I think we can still do it? Yeah, we’ve been pitching well and some of our young kids have come up pretty big.”
Tabor claimed the District 6B championship to punch its ticket to state. In the district championship game, Tabor knocked off Crofton 2-1.
Despite having besting the defending state champion in the playoffs recently, Tabor catcher Steve Fejfar believes Crofton has to be looked at as the favorite in the tournament.
Fejfar, a catcher who hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning of last year’s title game to get his team within four runs — is in his 27th year of playing amateur baseball. He admitted he’s considering calling it quits after the season. He’s won two Class A state championships and two Class B titles.
“Last year was good experience for us and it showed us we can make the championship game,” Fejfar said. “This year, I think we definitely have a chance. It’s just a matter of playing some defense and getting some runs.”
Kortan said right-hander Doug Vanecek will start today’s first-round game. Vanecek is 2-2 this season and was a Legion pickup player last year. He also leads the team with a .375 batting average.
As far as a secret in last year’s tournament run, Kortan didn’t really have one. He said pitching and defense were keys then, and will have to be again this year.
“Last year, everyone just did their job,” Kortan said. “We had a bunch of guys who wanted to win, and we had fun winning. We’ll have to do that again this year if we want to advance.”