COLUMBIA — The Hickman baseball team has already endured two brutal losses this year.
In the Midwest Classic two weeks ago, the Kewpies (5-4) lost to Francis Howell North 10-0 before losing to Fort Zumwalt East 18-6 three games later.
at Rock Bridge (9-2)
WHEN: 5 p.m.
WHERE: Rock Bridge High School
But Hickman coach Dan Devine Jr., isn't deterred by the losses. After losing 12 seniors at the end of last season, the Kewpies are a young team, and Francis Howell North (No. 16) and Fort Zumwalt East (No. 10) were both ranked among the top 20 teams in the state last season.
"That's the thing we like about playing a tough schedule," Devine Jr., said. "We've got to be on top of our game every time we go out."
Conditioned by their rigorous schedule so far this season, the Kewpies are looking to hand rival Rock Bridge (9-2) a loss Thursday night on its home field.
"This will be the first time in a while that we haven't gotten on a bus to go play," Devine Jr., said. "We'll go ahead and do some pre-gaming hitting at Hickman, so that will be pretty familiar to us, and then we'll just drive down to Rock Bridge and get ready."
After winning two games at home to start the season, the Bruins went 3-1 in both the Tampa Bay Spring Training Event in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the West-Central Tournament in Sedalia.
Rock Bridge coach Justin Towe said that because the Bruins have been strong so far, he isn't planning on changing the team strategy.
"Pitching and defense have been our bread and butter all season, so we're going to try to stick to that," Towe said.
Towe said the Bruins usually don't even discuss specific game strategies until practice the day before the game.
"We try to tell them to tune out everything else and just focus on the game for what it is — just another game — and sometimes that's hard to do," Towe said.
Even though Rock Bridge appears to be the stronger team at this point in the season, Devine Jr., said the Kewpies see the game as nothing more than that.
"It's still early April, and we have a lot more baseball to play," Devine Jr., said. "Of course we want to play well, and it's an important game for a lot of different reasons, but you still try to read it as one more game in a long series and just play a little better than we did the last time out."
Still, Devine Jr., is aware of the challenge his Kewpies face.
"You know when you're playing a really, really good team like Rock Bridge, and they're playing at home, that's going to make it a lot more difficult," Devine Jr., said.