Never since softball and baseball became varsity sports at Ottawa High five years ago had either team qualified for a state tournament.
Now both are state-bound.
The Cyclones will participate today in the Class 4A state softball and baseball tournaments in Mulvane. Coach Renee Malburg's softball team, seeded No. 2 with a 16-5 record, will meet Rose Hill (11-10) in the first round at 5 p.m. Coach Shawn Herrmann's baseball team, seeded No. 5 with a 15-6 record, will tangle with No. 4 seed Haven (16-5) at 6:30 p.m.
Malburg can't complain about the Cyclones' No. 2 seed -- only 22-1 Kansas City Piper is seeded higher -- but she thinks Rose Hill's No. 7 seed is deceptive.
"Their record might be misleading," the OHS coach said, "because they play games against bigger schools like Maize and Goddard."
Malburg also has made note of the fact Rose Hill is located a few miles from Mulvane.
"I've been telling the girls to expect them to have a big crowd and to be prepared," she said.
Malburg has a few seniors and juniors with state experience, but not as softball players. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Liz Burks has been to the state basketball tournament while twins Jenny and Julie Heck have been to state volleyball and basketball tournaments.
"We're hoping their state experience will help calm the nerves of some of the younger kids," Malburg said.
Fourth-year coach Malburg might have been referring in particular to freshman Megan Ramsey, the Cyclones' most talented all-around player. On the mound, Ramsey owns a 12-3 record with an 0.63 earned run average. Ramsey also is the Cyclones' leading hitter with a .543 average.
Burks is the second-leading hitter at .371. She also has stolen 22 bases in 23 attempts. Designated player Megan Matile is hitting .318 and No. 2 hitter Amanda Guenther is batting .317.
Ottawa's baseball team relies mainly on its battery of pitcher Andrew Maxwell and catcher Rick Croucher, the team's leading hitter with a .464 average.
First-year coach Herrmann said he had four quality starters in Maxwell, Andrew Miller, Matt Morton and Brandon Bettke, but Maxwell would get the nod in today's opener against Haven.
"He throws the hardest, he has the best curve ball," Herrmann said, "and our kids feel the most confident when he's on the mound."
Ottawa's confidence shouldn't be fazed by the No. 5 seed, because the Cyclones were the No. 4 seed at last week's 4A regional at Osawatomie.
In the regional, Ottawa disposed of No. 5 seed Baldwin, then edged No. 1 seed Lansing, 4-3, to reach the championship game against longtime nemesis Santa Fe Trail, which had ace Rob Musgrave ready for them.
"Musgrave had beaten us two years in a row," Herrmann said. "He struck out 14 the first time and 12 the second time."
The third time, though, was the charm. Ottawa turned four double plays and third baseman Clint Bones singled in the winning run in the ninth inning for a 1-0 Ottawa victory.
If the Cyclones knock off Haven, they'll meet the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Girard and eighth-seeded Topeka Hayden at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. If the OHS girls win tonight, they'll play the winner of the Chapman-Russell game at 10 a.m. Saturday.