Two of the more surprising teams still alive in the Class AAA postseason collide Tuesday at South Charleston High School.
With only nine wins and a perennial state power left in their wake, the homestanding Black Eagles might just be the most surprising team in any regional semifinal.
South Charleston (9-24) ended the regular season by losing 10 of its last 11 games, but survived a grueling Region 3 Section 3 tournament, advancing after knocking off Logan 3-1 in the deciding game. The Wildcats, owners of six state championships, entered that contest ninth in the Gazette state ratings.
"If we play how we're supposed to play, our record wouldn't be like that," said SC pitcher Jerod Jobst, who earned the decision in the section final against Logan. "We'd have more wins.''
In fact, SC usually does have more wins - it sports just its fourth losing record over the past 27 seasons, and has averaged 21 wins a year during that stretch.
While the Black Eagles surprised many by overcoming their struggles to reach the regional semifinals, Riverside raised a few eyebrows of its own by not following a similar path.
Granted, the Warriors haven't exactly set the world on fire with a 19-15 record, but for a program that had enjoyed just four winning seasons since 2000, this season has been a pleasant surprise.
Just not to coach Chris Hawkins and his club.
"Based off of the past, it's uncharted territory for the community and the school. But for myself and our coaches and kids, we're right where we expected to be," Hawkins said. "We've set the school record for wins. We've been playing well all year and won eight out of the last 11 games. We're getting hot at the right time."