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GISA ELITE 8 PREVIEW: Deerfield hits road for series vs. rival Westfield

Deerfield baseball coach Rod Murray wouldn't mind getting a little revenge on rival Westfield, which beat DWS in the GISA Class AAA state championship. The Knights and Hornets meet today in the quarterfinals.

Deerfield baseball coach Rod Murray wouldn't mind getting a little revenge on rival Westfield, which beat DWS in the GISA Class AAA state championship. The Knights and Hornets meet today in the quarterfinals.

PERRY — Today’s GISA Class AAA quarterfinal matchup between Deerfield-Windsor and Westfield isn’t for the state title.

It’s not even for a trip to the state championship game.

But it sure feels that way for the two rivals, who will meet for the first time in the playoffs since Westfield swept Deerfield in the 2011 state championship series. This weekend’s best-of-three series begins at 1 p.m. with a second game to follow immediately after the first.

“It’s always a battle when we play Westfield,” DWS senior Harris Webb said. “I was shocked to see that we played them this early. To be honest, it feels like a Final 4 game for us.”

In four of the last five years either DWS of Westfield — or both — have made it to the Final 4, and one of the two schools has played for a state title in three of the last five years.

The Knights (15-9) enter today’s opener as the No. 2 seed from Region 3-AAA, while Westfield, which swept Deerfield in a pair of games this season, is the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AAA.

DWS coach Rod Murray believes it’s a series where the Knights, who haven’t won a state title since 2003, need to make a statement.

“And I bet when you look at that roster in Perry, they are thinking the same thing,” Murray said. “Any time these two baseball teams get together, there is a lot of excitement. You know you have to play your best to get the win.”

The Knights played near-perfect baseball on April 6 in their last game against Westfield, but a lone error brought in the game’s only run, and Westfield won, 1-0.

“When you get two teams like this together it’s whoever does the little things right will be the team that comes out successful,” Murray said. “That’s the stuff that wins games when you have good teams going at it.”

Since that game, Murray has stressed the details.

“We beat ourselves that game,” said Webb, who, along with teammate Davis Hines, has committed to the University of Georgia.

“I expect (today) to be tough. They do a good job of throwing strikes and doing the little things. And we have to do those little things to beat them.”

It’s a series that could easily be decided by a Game 3 on Monday, and if it goes the distance Murray believes the Knights have the pitching to advance to the Final 4.

The DWS coaching staff is still deciding on a Game 1 starter, but Weston King, Austin Murphy, Justin Glover, Will Akins and Coleman Butler are all capable of taking the mound today.

“All five of those guys are throwing really well for us,” Murray said. “They are pitching to contact and showing good command. We like the depth we have on the mound.”