CRESTVIEW — Fresh off the District 2-6A championship, Crestview High School’s baseball team will host Tate in the Class 6A region quarterfinals at 7 p.m. tonight.
The Aggies (21-6) lost a heartbreaker to Pace in the District 1-1A championship game 2-1.
Bulldog coach Tim Gillis joked that, if given his choice, he'd opt out of playing Tate or Pace.
"Those are obviously two great programs that are well coached and have great tradition," he said.
No team in Northwest Florida has more baseball tradition than Tate. The Aggies have won seven state championships; the most recent title came in 2004.
Gillis said he doesn't know much about Tate, but what little he does know is impressive.
"I haven't been able to get much information on them," he said. "I have kept up with them through the years and I do know that they've got a couple of really good pitchers.
"And they've won 21 games. So obviously they are a really good quality team."
Preparing a team for playoffs isn't much different from preparing for a regular season game, Gillis said.
"I don't know if you change your preparation up much," he said. "You may have to change your mindset up. You don't want to get satisfied — and that's what we will talk to the guys about.
“We've got to get our mindset back to getting ready to play, and we are going to be ready to play. It's going to be a tough ball game, but we are going to do whatever it takes to get it done."
Several players from Crestview's 2011 playoff squad are still on the team, and Gillis believes the experience will only help his team.
"This team has been in the playoffs before, and they kind of know what it's about," he said. "The experience is big — having been in the wars and the heat of the battle, I think it works for you. It can't work against you. You have to use every little angle you can."
Throughout the season, and even in the district championship game, the Bulldogs have found a way to win, with 13 victories in their last 14 games.
"It is a fun team," Gillis said. "The thing about it is every game seems to be close. But finding a way to win is the key, and these guys have done a great job with it all year."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.