When two teams reach the highest level of a sport, it's only natural their paths across. Mohawk and Convoy Crestview have been two of the top small school softball teams in the state for the past decade and have developed a history with each other.
In 2003, Mohawk topped Crestview 6-1 for the Division III state championship. In 2006, Crestview gained a measure of revenge topping the Warriors 4-1 for a regional title, and again beat Mohawk in the regional semifinals the next year.
Noon today at Findlay High School, five years after their last encounter, the Warriors and the Knights will meet again, this time in a Division IV regional final with a trip to state going to the winner.
"It's a long history," Mohawk coach Jenny Weinandy said. "I don't know if my team now remembers that history as well as I do. They know their a good team, but not as familiar with them as I am."
Owen Pugh is in his 23rd year overall guiding the Knights covering two separate stints. He is in his third year back guiding the program after taking a five-year hiatus. Pugh was instrumental in turning a small school five miles from the Indiana border into one of the premier softball programs in the state.
"It starts with the little league program in Convoy and Wren, the two communities that make up the Crestview school district," Pugh said. "There were a lot of girls that were in high school that didn't want to run track, they wanted to play softball. We started it in 1985 and made the regionals the first three years we had softball.
"Everyone wants to be a winner and play for a winner and it kept building. For the girls here, that's their goal, to get up and play varsity ball here at Crestview."
Crestview (25-5) first made the state tournament in 2000, which began a stretch of nine trips to state in 12 years, including a championship in 2005, and a runner-up finish a year ago.
Ten letterwinners returned for the Knights and Pugh feels his team has many strengths, and perhaps none more important than team chemistry.
"Team defense and our hitting is pretty solid throughout the lineup," he listed among team strengths. "Our team chemistry is definitely right at the top, too, as far as how the girls have each others back. I've never had girls that had the team chemistry that this team does, and team chemistry goes a long way."
Even though this group at Mohawk is new when it comes to the regional softball scene, they still have recent successes to draw experience from. Several of the girls who line up around the diamond for Weinandy were members of the state finalist volleyball team in the fall.
Weinandy feels that experience will only help her team.
"The mentality and the intensity of how the games can get," she said when asked what her team can take from trip to state in volleyball. "Recovering from mistakes and getting back on track to finish the game with a win. The volleyball run definitely helps this group of girls to know they can do it if they work together."
"We're really close like we were in volleyball, we're a really close team in softball too," Mohawk's Ashley Cooper added after Wednesday's regional semifinal victory. "We know each other really well and we're bonding pretty good, so I think we can go pretty far."
Weinandy had the opportunity to scout Crestview Thursday when the Knights beat Defiance Ayersville in their regional semifinal.
"They do put the ball in play," she said. "Offensively they have some strong hitters. I think they are a little bit weaker this year than in the past. Defensively, they do make errors, but we have also at times. (Today) it's going to come down to who plays good defense."
Pugh also had a chance to get a look at Mohawk and is expecting a tight game that he said could come down to whichever team gets the right breaks.
"We know that they're a good solid ball club; a good hitting team and plays good defense and has a nice pitcher," he said. "I'm expecting to be a good hard-fought battle."