ST. PETER — Boys hockey? Sure.

Boys and girls basketball? Yep.

Baseball? Why not?

It's been an exciting year of state tournaments for St. Peter athletic teams, and several individuals, and it's going to end sometime in the next week with the baseball squad. But the legacy of success is something that seems to be growing each season and might motivate future Saints.

"After all the success we had in the winter, we started to think we could do it in baseball," said senior Tyson Sowder, who was a member of the school's state-tournament hockey team. "St. Peter has never really been known for baseball, but hopefully, that's starting to change."

St. Peter (19-5) faces third-seeded Foley (24-3) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the Class AA baseball tournament at St. Cloud. The Saints are making their first trip to the baseball state tournament since 1982, but state-tournament appearances in sports have become the norm for St. Peter during this school year.

"You always have expectations that you want to play in the state tournament," said St. Peter coach Kurt Moelter, who played on the 1991 state tournament for New Ulm, which finished in third place. "We have a bunch of players who got there in basketball, and we have a bunch of players who got there in hockey. Why not baseball?

"We've been close the last couple of years so we expected that we could make a run. The kids have had a taste of success, and they gained some confidence by playing in other state tournaments."

There are nine players on the baseball team's state-tournament roster that competed in basketball and hockey, meaning there's a lot of experience gained from high-pressure situations and successful outcomes.

"It's a cool experience, playing in front of all those fans," said senior pitcher/shortstop Andy Regner, who also competed in hockey but has signed to play baseball at Minnesota State. "It showed us we could do it against the best competition. We have the talent, and those experiences gave us more confidence."

St. Peter started the season with seven straight wins, building a little more confidence, but then lost 5 of 7 in the middle of the season, albeit to good teams with a combined record of 69-31. But the Saints recovered by winning 10 straight games, including last week's 3-2 victory over Le Sueur-Henderson in the section championship. The final out came with the bases loaded and two outs, setting off a thrilling celebration.

"It was amazing," Sowder said. "I've been playing with these guys my whole life, and to finally get that big win, it was something you dream about."

Regner will start Thursday's game against Foley, which is making its first state-tournament appearance. He is 9-0 with a 2.16 earned-run average, striking out 76 in 66 2/3 innings. He's also batting .400 with 31 hits, including one home run, and 22 RBIs.

Senior Hunter Wilmes provides the power, batting .419 with three homers and 32 RBIs. Sowder, the catcher, is hitting .500 with a team-high 39 hits and 21 RBIs, and senior Nick Morgan is hitting .412.

"Who would have thought I would end my high school career playing in two state tournaments (hockey and baseball)," Regner said. "We've done this for ourselves, we've done it for coach, we've done it for the St. Peter community. We're really fortunate to be in this position."

Foley has two all-stars in Noah Novak and Drew Beier, who set a team record by scoring 43 runs this season. Foley averages 7.8 runs per game and has a team ERA of 1.97.

St. Peter is batting .341 as a team and uses its speed to put pressure on the defense, with 44 stolen bases and an aggressive attitude. As usual, pitching and defense will be important.

"We can't just be happy to make it (to the state tournament)," Sowder said. "We're going to try to make some noise and show people that we're not lucky to be here."

Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier 

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