CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A postseason tune-up game isn't supposed to count for much, but it doesn't hurt when the coach sees what he was hoping to see.
Charleston Catholic handed Herbert Hoover a 14-9 Memorial Day defeat at Triana Field on Monday before a cookout ensued beyond left field.
The game itself, however, was a picnic for the Irish.
Charleston Catholic (28-9) took advantage of eight Hoover errors in its victory, but more importantly, the hosts felt ready for Friday's Class A State Tournament semifinal game with Valley-Fayette, which will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m.
"All games matter in terms of learning how to compete in different situations," said Mehle, whose team is making its seventh State Tournament appearance on Friday. "We don't put as much stock in the score or the final outcome of the game as how well we executed.
"A lot of our plate appearances were high-quality at bats, being able to know what your job is in different situations and executing it."
The victory sends Catholic into the State Tournament with 16 wins in its last 17 games, including a 9-1 victory over Valley on April 3. The win avenged an 11-8 Irish loss to the Greyhounds (23-7) on April 18 at Smithers.
Valley has won 12 of its last 14 games, and was without two of its starters for part of its loss to Charleston Catholic. Senior Arik McGinnis - the probable starting pitcher in Friday's semifinal and Valley's best player - left with a thumb injury. Also, John Riddle, a .411 batter with 21 RBI, left the game with a hip flexor.
"I don't know that it means that much because you lost most recently (in the season series)," Valley Coach Joe Craffey said. "For the most part, it was a close game. What concerns me is are we going to play any better this year when we get to the State Tournament than we have."
The Irish are coming off two consecutive State Tournament appearances, reaching the title game for the first time in 2011 before falling 14-7 to Wheeling Central. Last year, Catholic fell 6-1 eventual state champion Madonna.
Valley also is making its third straight trip, getting outscored 20-2 in back-to-back semifinal losses to Wheeling Central (2011) and East Hardy (2012).
Both teams will have experience in the lineup. Catholic pitcher Kiefer Hovorka started in the 2011 state title game and in last year's semifinal defeat.
His record is just 6-4, but the senior has a 1.37 earned run average and 76 strikeouts in 611/3 innings. If the Irish doesn't start Hovorka, the ball will likely go to another senior, Andy Hoyer. Hoyer leads the team in victories (9-1) and strikeouts (77). However, he also has received less run support than Hovorka, with the Irish scoring 30 runs in Hoyer's 572/3 innings, compared to just 19 in Hovorka's 611/3.