After a disappointing 20-23 season last year while missing the MINK playoffs, the St. Joseph Mustangs have had an impressive bounce back year as they will enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and a 29-8 record.
The Mustangs closed the season out strong as they won 17 of their last 19 games, including a franchise-record 14 straight wins.
A large part of the single season turnaround was due to being a more experienced team overall. Last season was Johnny Coy’s first season as manager and there were also multiple new players.
“It’s been a lot different this year, since last year there was only a few guys that had played here before so we didn’t really know what to expect,” Coy said. “But this year, we got a lot of familiar faces from last year and added some really good pieces, especially in the bullpen. I feel like we are overall a better team this year, and hopefully we can build off of this year and continue into next summer too.”
While the Mustangs missed postseason play last season, they have had plenty of strong playoff pushes in recent years. They won the championship two years ago, and won five total in between 2011 and 2017.
“The guys are really excited and they know how much this stuff means to the St. Joseph community and the fans. They are all really excited and are completely committed to bring a championship back to St. Joseph,” Coy said.
The Mustangs will play in the MINK North Championship tonight against Sedalia or Chillicothe. If they win, they will play a best-of-three Championship series against the South Divisional champion. They are hoping to take the hot winning streak they ended the regular season on into the playoffs.
“Just keep playing baseball the same way you have all summer, they’ve played so well all summer long; they’ve pitched well, they’ve hit well, they’ve just done everything well. This is just another game so I’ve told them just go out there play the way you can play and have fun and everything will just take care of itself,” Coy said.
Although the Mustangs have a championship on their minds, they must win their first playoff game in the North Divisional Championship game first.
“I expect a great atmosphere. It’s a win-or-go-home game, so the stakes are high, and our guys are really ready for the opportunity. I know that our opponent is going to be ready to play and it is going to be a blast,” he said.
With the best record in the MINK League, St. Joseph has a very deep roster that they will help use to their advantage.
“We’ve just got so many different lineups that we can put out there, that it is going to be tough for those first couple of games to come up with a lineup. You can’t go wrong with so many guys if you just look at the stats, there have just been so many guys that have performed so well that it is going to be a luck of the draw in those first few games and just see where it goes from there,” Coy said.
The Mustangs will look to capture their sixth championship in franchise history, as they have a hungry group of players who haven’t been a part of past title runs. The Mustangs will also have home field advantage for this postseason, hosting Games 2 and 3 at Phil Welch Stadium if they advance to the championship series.