When the 2020 Durant baseball team makes the trek to Principal Park in downtown Des Moines July 27, the Wildcats will be looking to win their first game at the state tournament in school history.
Durant was given the No. 7 seed in Class 2A while going unranked all season. The Cats will face No. 2 seed North Linn in the state quarterfinals Monday, July 27.
The trip to state is the first since 2003, and marks the fourth time in school history that the Wildcats have made the state tournament.
Durant has gone to state in baseball in 1979, 1996, 2003 and now 2020.
Durant made its first state trip in 1979 behind the pitching of future state all star Jon Roehlk. The Wildcats defeated Amana 3-1 in order to make the state tournament. Roehlk and Joel Meincke pitched in the game. Doug Lincoln had three hits and Kraig Puck had a home run.
Coaches of the team were Steve Reinert and Bob George.
At the Class A state tournament, Durant was defeated by Johnston 14-1. Roehlk pitched the game and gave up just six hits, but an error and 14 total walks plagued the Wildcats. Durant had just two hits in the contest.
The Wildcats went 24-5 that season. Roehlk, Jeff Ralfs and Puck were named All-District and Roehlk played in the state All-Star Series.
Durant’s most impressive state run came in 1996, when the Wildcats defeated Andrew 8-0 in District play before beating Lisbon, then ranked No. 2 in the state, 3-2 in 10 innings to make it to the state tournament.
Lance Paulsen hit a 2-out single that scored Josh Jepsen to win the game against the Lisbon Lions.
Durant had a 15-12 record while playing mostly Class 2A competition in the Eastern Iowa Hawkeye Conference. The Cats qualified for the Class 1A state tournament, where they faced then 8-time champion and top ranked Lansing Kee (41-3).
Lansing Kee won a nail-biter against the Wildcats 2-1 in the opening game at state. Mike Petersen coached the team and his son Brian Petersen pitched the game. It was scoreless through five and tied 1-1 in the seventh before Lansing Kee won in walk-off fashion 2-1. Lansing Kee would go on to finish second that season. Durant finished 15-13.
In 2003, coach Mike Petersen had another Durant team hovering around 0.500 that got hot at the right time. And again he had sons making contributions, as Kyle and Ross Petersen were both on the team. Future Durant head coach Colin Meyer was also on the 2003 team.
The Cats defeated Danville 9-5 to make the 1A state tournament, where they faced North Tama (26-7) in the opening round. North Tama had upset No. 2 Lansing Kee in Substate that year. North Tama later lost in the semifinals.
The Wildcats lost to North Tama 7-1 at the state tournament, committing six errors and stranding eight base runners on the day. Kyle Petersen took the loss on the mound. Durant finished 16-14 that season.