ROSWELL -- Forget the history, for North Hall and Blessed Trinity, this week's Class AAA playoff showdown is all about the here and now.
Yes the two programs faced off in last year's state semifinal -- North Hall getting the better of a three-game series -- but as far as both are concerned that's now ancient history.
"They're a different team now; they've reloaded," Trojans coach Trent Mongero said of Blessed Trinity. "And even though we have a lot of guys that experienced last year this is a different team, and they've created their own identity."
Right now that identity is one of calm assurance -- at least until game time.
"There will be a huge adrenalin rush when we play these guys, because a lot of people think they may be the most talented team in the state," Mongero said. "We're excited for this opportunity."
And why not? After all, North Hall (20-8) enters the series on the back of perhaps its best baseball of the season in a two-game sweep of Sonoraville in the first round. And, with four experienced seniors leading the way, the Trojans will not be intimidated by going on the road, no matter the opponent.
"We really have been putting things together as the season came to an end, and we really played well in the first round," Mongero said.
Don't mistake confidence for cockiness, however.
The Trojans know that things can change in a hurry -- especially in playoff baseball, and especially against a team like Blessed Trinity (21-7).
"Baseball is a crazy game, and we're well aware that it can humble you at any moment," Mongero said. "Blessed Trinity doesn't have any holes in their game. They play phenomenal defense and are a phenomenal team, and it's going to take our best."
In that sense, there is at least one factor that will hold over from last year's series to this: "It's all going to come down to one hit here or one hit there," Mongero said.
Getting hits has not come easy against the Titans this season, especially against ace Ryan Young -- who is 6-0 on the year with a 0.53 ERA and 49 strikeouts. Brad Spinner has also enjoyed a strong season on the mound, as the left handed starter is 4-1 with 2.37 ERA with 51 strikeouts.
"They throw strikes and they have a closer that is also their closer who comes in and throws low 90s (miles per hour) with a nasty breaking pitch," Mongero said.
The Titans' offense is pretty good too.
"They're rumored to hit with more power than last year, and they've got more speed on the bases," Mongero said of a Blessed Trinity team batting .360 as a team with 18 home runs.
In fact the Titans' roster carries four players with three home runs and 20-plus RBI: Cody Roberts (.405 average, 28 RBI, 10 doubles), Jake Bogosian (.388 average, 26 RBI, six doubles), John Castro (.361, 22 RBI) and Conor Davis (.364 average, 21 RBI, 10 doubles).
Corbin Lewallen will look to silence those bats in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader for the Trojans, with the Game 2 starter still to be decided.
Meanwhile, North Hall's offense, led by Andrew Smith, will look to continue the aggressive play that has served it so well this season.
"We take what the game gives us," Mongero said. "We asses what the game allows for and we prepare for that in practice."
It is an approach that has yielded results, and the Trojans seem to be hitting on all cylinders as they approach their toughest tests.
"We saw glimpses of what we could do through the season, but we didn't put all three ingredients (pitching, hitting and defense) together," Mongero said. "But you could see it, and we played our best baseball of the year against Sonoraville."
And as far as intangibles go, the Trojans can rely on four seniors -- Smith, McCoy Savage, Stephen Murray and Brandon DeLong -- to set a tone that has led the way back to the postseason.
"All four of those guys realize we're fighting for our lives," Mongero said. "It was the duty of this year's seniors to create our identity, and they've done that. And they're not ready to be finished yet."