Thomas senior Tyler Mannering knows what to expect in a high-pressure atmosphere.
He's played numerous games in the state tournament for football and basketball during his four years at the school, learning more and more each game.
Thursday, though, marks the first baseball state tournament appearance in school history for the Terriers, who open against Class A No. 2 Rattan at 1:30 p.m. on Palmer Field in Dolese Park.
Mannering, the team's right-handed ace, will be on the mound, but he is approaching it like the many other state tournament games he's played in other sports.
“You get the same type of jitters, but playing those (other) sports helps you,” Mannering said. “It's an important game, but (you try) not to take it too seriously; just play your game and don't let the jitters get to you.”
Thomas has a rich history in football, winning eight state titles between 1947 and 1969, which has continued through the years culminating in a quarterfinal finish last season.
It has also made 13 trips to the boys basketball state tournament, finishing as the runner-up twice and making the semifinals this past season.
Oddly, the success has never truly carried over to the baseball diamond, though there have been near misses with the Terriers falling one game shy the past two years.
“Throughout the years I've had some really good players, but it was never enough to get it together on one team to make it to the state tournament,” longtime Thomas coach David Hajny said.
“We were very competitive, but being in Class A and being a football school it's just a little tougher sometimes playing teams that play two seasons of baseball.”
It wasn't even easy getting into this year's tournament.
The Terriers beat No. 7 Hydro-Eakly to advance in the final game, but not after recovering from a 22-8 drubbing that lasted two days due to rain.
Now the Thomas players are ready to show this week they belong alongside some of the traditional small-school baseball powers.
There is no better way to start than by beating Rattan, the defending spring champion that has five spring titles and six fall titles.
“In the state tournament, I just want to go out and play well,” Hajny said. “What happens happens. We just got to go play well.”