Bridgeport and Princeton are two hungry teams.
The Indians and the Tigers will collide at 4:30 p.m. today in the Class AAA semifinals, which is also the opening game of the state tournament at Appalachian Power Park.
Bridgeport (29-7), which finished second in the Gazette's ratings, lost last year in the regionals to Elkins on a walk-off home run, finishing 28-3. Two years ago, the Indians fell to Nitro in the state championship game.
"I still think that's in the back of their mind,'' said Bridgeport coach Robert Shields on missing out on last year's state tourney. "I'm just really pleased with our kids.
"We started off slow. We just kept plugging away and we've gotten better. We had some holes we had to fill and just by trial and error we just had to work our way through some things. Right now we're probably playing the best ball we've played.''
No. 4 Princeton (24-8) lost to Nitro in the 2010 semifinals in Tigers coach Josh Wilburn's first season. The Tigers, though, missed out on making the return trip last year.
"As far as the experience and the way that they've played over the last three years, I'm confident we can compete with anybody in the state,'' said Wilburn, whose team was the Mountain State Athletic Conference tournament runner-up.
Bridgeport also has some heavy hearts and motivation with the death of Shields' father, Robert "Timbuck'' Shields, who was a prominent figure in Harrison County athletics and education.
"It seems like with the passing of my father, who was legendary coach in Legion around here, I think that adds a little bit to it that [our players] want to bring it home to someone,'' said the Bridgeport coach. "It gives them a little added incentive.''