SEYMOUR (WLUK) -- It turns out the second time is the charm for the Seymour softball team.
A year after losing just once in the regular season and failing to reach sectionals, the Thunder once again lost just once this regular season, but this time the postseason run would be much longer.
Seymour beat Winneconne 13-7 in a Division 2 sectional final last week to clinch its first trip to the state tournament. After having another terrific regular season it would seem the expectation was a state berth, but not really.
"I wouldn't say it was an expectation for this team," junior catcher Chloe Evans said. "I would say it was more of let's try an accomplish each goal one part at a time. We're a different team from last year, so I think it was really let's win that regional final game and from there everything's a plus."
Not having any state tournament experience, the No. 2-seeded Thunder (23-1) knows Friday afternoon's game against No. 3 Ellsworth will be something it has never gone through.
Emotions will be high, but coach Karri VandenLangenberg has a message for her team.
"It's a field that has dirt on it," she said. "I told them when they get out there I want you to pick up the dirt, I want you to feel the dirt. It's not any different than the dirt we're standing on right now.
"It's one more game that we have to get through. It's one more that we have to do what we know how to do."
"I think it's going to be like a little overwhelming, but if we just play the way we're capable off we will all just be fine," senior pitcher Paige Weyer said. "We might be a little overwhelmed at first but we'll settle in. We're obviously excited and it's a great accomplishment but we're still like hungry and stuff.
"We want to go down and win this thing because I know we're capable of that."
Seymour's only setback this season was a 3-1 loss to West De Pere on April 23. Since then, the Thunder has rattled off 15 straight wins, five coming via shutout.
The Thunder is confident but knows it has to be on its game at state.
"We have to focus on one game at a time," said Evans, who has 14 home runs. "If we can win this one, we're in the championship; that's really as simple as it is. We have to focus up as a team on the way down there, when we're there and really play hard as a team together."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay