ALEXANDRIA, Ky. — Seven graduated seniors on the Campbell County High School baseball team have been out of school for more than three weeks.
Summer is knocking on the door and that generally represents activities that don’t involve school for a while.
But, any possible distractions haven’t stopped the Camels' quest for a state title this late spring weekend in Lexington.
Campbell County (28-10) plays Bullitt East (28-10) in a state semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. The winner plays either Louisville St. Xavier or McCracken County in the state final at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I just keep telling them this is the furthest we’ve been in school history,” Campbell County coach Scott Schweitzer said. “Don’t be satisfied. Keep pushing.”
Timely hitting and excellent defense have been the key ingredients this postseason for the Camels, who are making their fourth state tournament appearance.
Schweitzer has kept practices enjoyable and the players have responded to the laid-back atmosphere.
“I feel everybody is focused and the goal is to win the state,” senior pitcher Alex Franzen said. “Everybody enjoys being there. It’s a bunch of goofballs who can also be serious.”
Campbell County is in its second state semifinal in program history and the first since 1972, according to Schweitzer. This is the first time the program won two games in the state tournament. (The state tournament used to be eight teams instead of 16).
Every spring, the Camels’ goal is to win a region title. It did so this year for the first time since 1989.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Schweitzer said. “I can’t say enough about the character of the kids. It’s like what (senior) Connor Walsh says when we take the field: ‘Stay focused, stay positive and let’s win.’”
Multiple players have contributed in a significant way including junior outfielder/pitcher Joe Eblin, who has six RBI in the past two games. Walsh, a second baseman/left fielder, senior third baseman Dawson Hogan and Franzen have been among the leaders.
“It’s been super special with it being my senior year,” Walsh said. “It’s just awesome how it’s worked out this way and everyone is smiling. You have to have fun playing this game.”
Junior infielder/outfielder/pitcher Corey Franzen was named third-team all-state and junior infielder/outfielder/pitcher Colton Hartig was honorable mention all-state.
Alex Franzen will take the mound on Friday night. He has an 11-3 record and is still considering college baseball opportunities.
His father, Greg, was on the 1989 regional title team. The two joked at the beginning of the season it would be neat for Alex to be on another regional title team. Neither imagined the trip to the state semifinals.
“Honestly what we’ve put together this postseason run is incredible,” Alex Franzen said.
The team will enjoy a sendoff lunch from Express Meats and Catering Friday before leaving for Lexington at 4 p.m.
Schweitzer credits school administration officials and their support of tickets for students and staff as a big plus for this state journey.
“The community support has been awesome,” he said.