KIMBERLY (WLUK) -- Kimberly has won four of the last five Fox Valley Association baseball titles and has reached the state tournament the previous three seasons, so when it comes to expectations for the Papermakers, they are there before the first pitch of the season.
However, this year Kimberly is a little off ... for Kimberly, as its four conference losses equal the combined total from the past two seasons.
After a 1-0 loss Thursday to Fond du Lac, Kimberly led the FVA race by one game entering Friday's game at Appleton West. Could the FVA title be going elsewhere?
Based on Friday's performance, not just yet. Kimberly completed the season sweep of the Terrors, bombing West, 14-0, at Sunset Park.
"After coming off a tough game (Thursday), where we didn't hit the ball great, it feels good to come out and get a lot of confidence," senior Zach Carney said. "Early on we got guys on base and kept it going."
Carney delivered a second-inning grand slam to make it 7-0 as Thursday's performance seemed like weeks ago.
"With the wind blowing out at Sunset (Park), it's already a short park; I'm not looking to hit a home run, I'm looking to drive the ball opposite field," Carney said. "It's a great feeling. I was lucky to get a good hit on that one."
Kimberly (12-6, 11-4), which plays at Oshkosh West (12-6, 9-6) on Monday, leads Hortonville (17-5, 11-5) by one game in the loss column in the FVA race, and the teams meet Tuesday. Kimberly has been the team to beat in the FVA for years and coach Ryan McGinnis said his team is coming along.
"I like our guys, they're starting to compete," McGinnis said. "We've certainly made strides and you should throughout the course of a season. I like the route we're going."
As for winning a conference title again, McGinnis said, "It's a measure of consistency, winning a conference championship."
In other words, you have to be consistently good all season to win a league title. Kimberly might be on the right path to doing that as it has won four of five games.
"It's important to win a conference championship," Carney said. "It's nice to see a little reward for the hard work we put in."
And Carney said Friday's outburst was a glimpse of what the Papermakers can do.
"We can keep getting better," Carney said. "We haven't been hitting the ball as great as we should. Today showed what we're capable of doing."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay