PESHTIGO, Wis. (WFRV) – The Peshtigo softball program is no stranger to the state tournament – but this year, the Lady Bulldogs will try to get back to the big dance with some of their highest expectations ever.

The program reached state last year in Green Bay, bowing out in the semifinals against a stout Prescott team.

But the Bulldogs haven’t been to Madison since 2010 when they won their only state title with a championship victory over Winnebago Lutheran.

This year, with a 20-1 regular-season record, a No. 1 ranking, and a top seed headed into next Tuesday’s regionals, Peshtigo has every reason to be confident – but they’ll keep things light in the process.

“It’s carried over a lot from last year,” senior infielder Emma Gilligan said. “The connection between the teammates, it’s like there’s never a dull moment. It’s always fun.”

“I think the practices are actually really fun,” senior infielder Sydney Lund said. “Coach keeps it light, he lets us play music, and we always cheer each other on. I just think it’s a really fun atmosphere.”

The energy in practice reflects the shortlist of emphases for the program: have fun, cheer each other on, and bring a winning attitude.

“We say sell out for each other,” head coach Matt LaCoursiere said. “When somebody makes a play, get excited. When your teammates have success, be happy for them.

“I’ve seen it in the past; you get divided teams once in a while. We haven’t had that in the last two years and it’s been outstanding.”

While the culture of this year’s Peshtigo program hasn’t changed, the style of play is a stark difference from last season.

This year’s Lady Bulldogs thrive on small ball – bunting, strong defense, and elite pitching – and have only hit two home runs out of the park all season.

That mindset takes an unselfish attitude, and this team has that in spades.

“The girls have done an excellent job of not getting too high when we’re high and not getting too low when we’re low,” LaCoursiere said. “They don’t have selfishness. We preach that, too.”

“None of us are selfish, we all want to win for each other and it’s never a selfish game ever,” Lund said. “I have confidence in them and I hope they have confidence in me.”

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And the program is hoping that mindset leads to another trophy in Madison.

“When we get to this point, it’s the part of the season where you’ve really got to dig deep,” Gilligan said. “It’s now or never, so you’ve got to lock it in and get it done.”