A pair of Tam High teams head into North Coast Section Division III playoff games Wednesday. Both have something to prove, but for very different reasons.
For Tam High’s baseball team, it’s about putting the program on the map in a key battle with an opponent who got the better of them in the preseason and represents where they want to be. The softball squad gets its edge from a very simpler source: revenge.
The second-seeded Lady Hawks (22-4) host No. 3 Bishop O’Dowd, which beat them for the NCS crown in 2010. If they win, they might get yet another shot at the San Marin Mustangs, who beat them this season for the MCAL title.
Tam advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Terra Linda Saturday behind a two-hitter from ace Kim Scarsella. Tam takes on O'Dowd (18-6) at 4 p.m.
But while the Tam softball program is perennially strong, the Tam High baseball team is in the midst of its coming out party.
The Hawks beat Albany High 6-5 in the first round of the NCS playoffs last Wednesday and came into Saturday’s battle with Drake High having split this season’s two games with their MCAL rival.
The win came as a result of an asset the Hawks have leaned on at key points of the season, according to coach Mike Terry: patience. Pirates ace Bryan Bostjancic had a hard time with the home plate umpire’s “dime-size strike zone,” Terry said, and he walked three of the first six hitters he faced. Coupled with timely hits from Mac Huffman, Chris Hayman and Matt Davis, the Hawks surged to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and tacked on another four runs in the second inning.
“Our strategy was to be patient and run his pitch count up a bit and we were able to do that,” Terry said of Bostjancic.
Meanwhile, ace Kit Larson was mowing down the Pirates (19-10), going for six innings, giving up two runs on just two hits and striking out six. He also walked three despite giving up only eight walks over 50-plus innings this season, Terry said.
“Even though we were up 9-0, I left Kit in the game because I felt like he was the only guy that could handle that strike zone, which was so small,” Terry added. Larson also went 2 for 2 with two runs scored.
Next up is second-seeded Miramonte (15-10) in Orinda at 4 p.m. Miramonte, which is making its fourth trip to the NCS semifinals, had a down season in a very strong league but is a regular NCS contender.
“They’re the type of program that we aspire to be,” Terry said. “They’re consistently good year in and year out. There’s a ton of talent over there. But we feel like if we play our game we can beat them.”
The Hawks lost a preseason contest to Miramonte in early March but Terry said that game will have little bearing on Wednesday’s matchup.
“This is a much better team right now than it was at the start of the season,” Terry said. “”We’ve built up a lot of confidence over the past few weeks.”