After 25 seasons as head baseball coach at Saline High School and six trips to the state championship, Scott Theisen finally achieved his ultimate goal.
It hasn’t been easy. He’s been close so many times he could practically taste it, losing in the championship game by one run three separate times.
“You get to the point where you never know if you are going to get another chance and you kind of come to the realization that it may not happen and I was okay with that,” Theisen said.
After holding a lead late in last year’s state championship and letting it slip away, Theisen said the coaches and returning players were really driven to close the deal this season.
“We were all on a mission to try and get back and to win the thing,” Theisen said.
Following an offseason of hard work, the Hornets got their second chance. The team faced Northville in the championship and won 5-2.
“It’s been fun,” Theisen said. “Just knowing that you finally reached something you have been trying to do for your whole career.”
Theisen said while he learned from each experience, he tried to stick to what he knew worked.
“There wasn’t much that we changed from one year to the next,” Theisen said. “Three of our five losses were by one run so we were right there. If there was one thing, it would just be not to try to treat it much different than any other game and try to make the kids feel like it’s not bigger than it really is.”
“Keep the routine the same,” Theisen said. “It’s the same game. Yes, the stakes are bigger but the game itself is played the same way, you are going to win and lose the same way, so don’t think you need to make drastic changes when you get to that point.”
Theisen said the nature of the tournament means you need some luck along with talent.
“In single elimination tournaments you can easily have the best team and not get there or not win it just because one bad inning can derail the whole thing,” Theisen said. “It is really tough to do for seven or eight straight games and you’ve got to have the breaks, you’ve got to have good talent and things have got to go your way.”
Theisen said because of the past success of the program, his players don’t really need to be told to focus up when the playoff start.
“When we reach the tournament I think the kids understand the importance of every inning, every at bat, every pitch,” Theisen said. “We really don’t talk about staying focused too much because they are locked in when that tournament comes. It’s something they look forward too at the end of the year. The weather gets better, the practices are sharper and there is not a whole lot the coaches have to do to amplify their focus, it’s just kind of been born because of the years of success in the past.”
If you know Scott Theisen, then you understand how much he stresses that each day is an important building block to your ultimate goal, whether it is December in the gym or practice the day before the state championship.
“It’s critical,” Theisen said of the importance of hard work during the offseason. “In a sport like baseball, like a lot of skilled sports, if you are going to make changes to how you do things, mechanically or technically, the time to do that is in the offseason because once you start playing, it’s tough to make any major changes to your mechanics of your swing or you're throwing or whatever it is you are trying to get better at.”
Theisen said it is truly hard for him to put into words what it means winning the state championship.
“I always wanted to know what it felt like, so it is kind of like a dream come true,” Theisen said. “Everything you have always dreamed of and hoped for and wanted to see happen for your kids and your program finally comes to fruition, it’s pretty cool.”
Theisen said he doesn’t foresee himself slowing down anytime soon.
“I still enjoy the game, I still enjoy being around kids, so I guess until that stops or something else comes up, I’m just going to want to keep going with it,” Theisen said.