The Nazareth Swifts are competing in the UIL 1A state baseball tournament this week.

Nazareth (18-4) will face Fayetteville (19-6) in the 1A state semifinals at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas at Noon on Wednesday. Should Nazareth win, it will play in the 1A state title game at 9 am on Thursday.

A majority of the Panhandle and South Plains know all about Nazareth and its storied tradition in the field of athletics. For those who don’t, here are five things you should know before the Swifts walk onto the diamond.

Nazareth’s Will Young (1) runs home in a 1A Regional Semifinals game against Claude, May 18, 2023, at Hodgetown, in Amarillo, Texas.  Nazareth won 8-4.

Nazareth’s Will Young (1) runs home in a 1A Regional Semifinals game against Claude, May 18, 2023, at Hodgetown, in Amarillo, Texas. Nazareth won 8-4.

1. It’s their third straight trip to Round Rock

Nazareth hasn’t had a baseball team for that long in comparison to some of the other squads in the area. But the current run it’s been on is something to behold. The Swifts made the state tournament in baseball for the first time ever two years ago before being eliminated. Last year, Nazareth advanced to the title game for the first time in program history, finishing as the state runner-up. This go-around, Nazareth is hoping to take home the gold.

more: Nazareth hoping third time’s the charm at 1A state tournament

2. It’s a senior-heavy squad

Last year’s Nazareth team relied heavily on pitcher Trent Gerber, who put forth one of the best seasons of any player in the Panhandle. He was one of two seniors who graduated and was at the source of one of the biggest offseason questions: How would the Swifts handle filling the void left by Gerber, who pitched the overwhelming majority of their innings. The answer is: With a ton of senior leadership, specifically, 11 players in their final year of high school on Nazareth’s team. While they may not have replaced the strikeout rate that Gerber maintained, the group has made sure Nazareth is right back where it has been the past two years.

3. They’ve adapted to change

The graduation of Gerber has eaten in far fewer strikeouts this season. However, Carson Heiman (1.82 ERA), Tanner Birkenfeld (2.12 ERA) and Sterl Welps (4.59 ERA) have managed to keep runs off the board by pitching to contact, while the defense has made some big plays when called upon. What’s more is the offense has made tremendous strides in comparison to last year with Welps (.466 average, 35 RBI), Luke Schulte (.424, 37 runs scored), Heiman (.406, 22 RBI) and Birkenfeld (.397, 23 RBI) leading the way. Tell Bagley (. 340, 16 RBI) and Brett Heitschmidt (. 316, 14 RBI, 22 runs) have also been impressive at the plate and fueled an offense averaging 11.5 runs per game in six postseason contests.

more: Randall hopes to make more history at Class 4A state baseball tournament

4. They have a do-it-all coach

Heading into last year, there may have been some people wondering about Tyler Goodwin taking the position of head baseball coach. He’d never coached varsity baseball in any capacity before. All he did in year one was guide the Swifts to the state title game for the first time ever, and has them back in Round Rock. This was after Nazareth got a late start to the season with the basketball team making a deep run in the postseason and Goodwin serving as an assistant coach on that squad. He’s also the head football coach and athletic director. Did we mention he’s got a wife and kid?

5. They come from a winning tradition

You have to have lived under a rock if you didn’t know about the success Nazareth has had in girls basketball. They’ve made 31 appearances at state and won their 25th state championship this year, the most of any girls basketball program in Texas regardless of classification. The boys basketball team has won six state titles in 18 appearances, the boys cross country team has made four appearances at state while the girls have won six cross country titles in 25 appearances. The baseball team will now look to add one more trophy to the Nazareth collection.

NAZARETH VS. FAYETTEVILLE

Class 1A state semifinals

when: Noon, Wednesday

where: Dell Diamond, Round Rock

Watch: NFHS Network, www.nfhsnetwork.com

Listen: KNNK at network1sports.com

Records: Nazareth (18-4), Fayetteville (19-6)

Other 1A semifinals: Abbott (21-4) vs. Kennard (22-12)

Championship games: 9 am Thursday, Dell Diamond.

Coverage: Follow @byStephenGarcia, @Caller_Len and @annierice_photo on Twitter for updates and recaps, stories and photos, visit www.amarillo.com.

This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Five things to know about Nazareth heading into the state baseball tournament

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