NEW HOLSTEIN, Wis. - For 54 years, on a diamond surrounded by cornfields, bats pinging line drives, gloves catching fastballs and cleats cutting into the dirt as Huskies round the bases have been the sounds of summer in New Holstein.
"Summer ball is always — It's about all we do here," said Coach Chad Feucht, laughing.
But 2018 will be the last year of summer baseball in the Badger State. The WIAA is suspending it after this season due to decreasing participation.
"It's bittersweet," said junior Teddy Schnell. "I mean, summer ball is always going to be a part of our like legacy here at New Holstein High School."
That legacy includes the very first summer baseball state championship back in 1965 and 19 appearances at the state summer tournament, more than any other school in the Wisconsin.
"Summer ball will always give you something to look forward to during the summer, and just the bonds that you make over the summer," Schnell said. "I mean, people work and then you come to baseball and it's all baseball here."
"In this area, there's a lot of hard-working people, and that kind of just carries over on to the baseball field," said senior Casey Schrage. "I mean, you can't just show up. You've got to work for it and that's kind of been the tradition around here."
That work will have to shift to the spring baseball season as the Huskies move forward.
"Spring ball is going to be cold! Trade in T-shirts for turtlenecks, I guess," Feucht joked.
But for now, seventh-seeded New Holstein is two wins away from another state tournament berth, preparing for a matchup with third-seeded Howards Grove Monday in sectional semifinals.
"All the living legends that we've had here at New Holstein High School, it'll mean a lot for them if we make it back. We were the first team to win the title. Haven't won it since," said Schnell. "To make it back would mean a lot to the past players here at New Holstein High School and it'd be very good for our program moving forward."
"First one is the only one so far," said Feucht, who also played for New Holstein from 1992-1994. "That would be a dream come true. The first and the last? That would be a dream come true."
And the Huskies will have one more shot at the record books before they're closed for good on summer baseball in Wisconsin.
Four sectional winners will advance to the WIAA state summer baseball tournament on July 20, at Concordia University Wisconsin's Kapco Park in Mequon.