Michelle Samuel said her heart was still racing minutes after she knew her son Reece and the McFarland High School baseball team would be heading to the state tournament in Appleton.
The Spartans earned a chance for the WIAA Division 2 state title after beating Madison Edgewood 3-2 on June 4 in nine innings at Baraboo. They played against Union Grove on Wednesday night at Fox Cities Stadium.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Samuel said. “Baseball has been his love since he could hold a bat. The progress he has made in his career and to come to this point is really surreal, and it chokes me up a lot to see this happening to him.”
She said her family from the Appleton area will attend the games to root for her son.
Ed Feldner, the son of head coach John Feldner and father of Spartans infielder/pitcher Austin Miller, said he was hoping for good things from Miller when he came on in relief in the sixth inning of the sectional championship.
“Just throw strikes and let the defense do its work. That’s all you can do,” he said. “In baseball, anything can happen.”
Ed Feldner, who played for his father at McFarland and later spent several years on the McFarland Muskies of the Home Talent League, thinks the team advancing for the state tournament will provide a boost to the school’s baseball program.
“Hopefully, kids get excited about it and want to go out and play and practice and be part of something this special,” he said.
Jamie Werwinski, whose son Carson preserved the victories against Madison Edgewood and Elkhorn with some outstanding defensive work at right field, also spoke as a proud father.
“I don’t think he ever dreamed he would make state,” Werwinski said. “This is a dream come true for the kids, and I think it’s way above their expectations.”
Lorena Schreiber, the mother of Xavier, who drove in Carson Wienke with the winning run by hitting a sharp grounder that was misplayed by the Crusaders second baseman, said her son participated in Little League and travel ball before high school. She looked forward to seeing him and the rest of the Spartans play for a state title.
“Baseball is his life. I’ve seen all these boys grow up in McFarland,” she said. “They really work well together, and I’ll be excited to see them play there.”