OZARK, Mo. — Platte Valley left the MSHSAA Class 1 Baseball Championships with two losses and were outscored 19-3 in two games after a 9-3 loss Tuesday evening to the Cairo Bearcats. But Tuesday’s loss doesn’t put a damper on the best season in the co-op’s history, nor it’s bright future with a team that returns all but one player.

“It’s been a pleasure to be here playing with these guys,” senior Tyler Vongkhamchanh said. “I wouldn’t want to play with any other team. It’s a great group of guys and they have everyone coming back except me, but I’ll be here watching them next year.”

The Platte Valley senior said the hope for a trip to Springfield began day one. Vongkhamchanh couldn’t point to a moment or period of time when that dream of a final four became a real possibility.

“Once we started winning games and saw what we were capable of, we knew that we could do it,” Vongkhamchanh said.

Tuesday’s season finale showed that the team has more to overcome to get to the level of the other three teams. The Platte Valley pitching staff allowed 11 hits and eight earned runs in the loss. The team once again struggled defensively with three errors against Cairo and seven total in two days.

“It’s about getting back on the field and working hard everyday,” Alex Mattson said. “We’re bringing back our best pitchers. Memphis took a huge jump last year to this year. I think Memphis and Miller can take huge jumps for next year.”

Platte Valley head coach Zach Dyer said the team will need to face tougher competition in 2023.

“We’re going to hopefully play tougher competition with better pitchers to hit because we know what to expect down here now,” Dyer said. “Everyone is going to throw their ace, so there is going to be good pitching and so we have to expect to be able to hit it.”

Of the four teams in this years’ final four, only two of the top eight pitchers in the tournament will graduate. Mattson said that there isn’t a lack of motivation as they prepare for 2023.

“Platte Valley has always been a competitive school and we always want to win,” Mattson said. “Losing games like this when we feel like we could have competed better, could have played better, it just drives us more to be the best.”

Anthony Crane can be reached at anthonytcrane@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @crane_anthony

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