But after helping his West York baseball team to an 8-1 win over defending state champion Northern York in the District 3 Class AAA third-place game on Thursday at Hershey High School's Memorial Field, it will be worth it.
"We got a long ride ahead of us, but we're going to come out ready to go," Hepler said of his team capturing the final state qualifying spot for District 3 Class AAA.
Monday's first round PIAA Class AAA game will pit the Bulldogs against District VI champion Hollidaysburg at a site and time to be announced.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs (21-4) scored runs in four of their six innings to back Hepler, who tossed a complete game four-hitter.
"My fastball was real good today. I felt like I threw the hardest I did all year," Hepler said.
Hepler's stat line included striking out seven -- including the 300th of his high school career -- walking two, and picking off two base runners.
"I think on the year that makes 13 or 14 that he's picked off," Bulldogs head coach Roger Czerwinski said. "That shuts down the opposing teams' running game and he does a great job of keeping runners close. I think that's what sets him at that next level."
Hepler -- a Winthrop recruit -- also added two hits at the plate and two stolen bases. The right hander got a lot of offensive help from sophomore Carson Fries, who went 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
"I felt a lot of pressure off my shoulders," said
The Bulldogs finished with 11 hits, including four doubles -- two by Toomey (2-for-3, two runs). West York chased Polar Bears (18-7) starter Vince Apicella -- a Coastal Carolina recruit -- after three innings. The Northern lefty surrendered three runs on four hits, while striking out two and walking one.
Leading 1-0, Fries' one out double in the third inning to right center scored Brandon Rauhauser and Brandon Kinneman, giving the Dogs a 3-0 advantage.
West York tacked on four more runs off Northern reliever Rusty Simmoneau in the fourth.
"Our kids came out and wanted it," Czerwinski said. "We talked about in life there are opportunities and that you put yourself in a situation to take advantage of it, and that's what our kids did today."
The lone Polar Bears batter to have success against Hepler was Jon Mayer -- who went 3-for-3. When Northern did try to start a rally, Hepler stopped it by picking two runners off first base, one each in the fifth and sixth innings.
The win propels the Bulldogs to the state tournament as the No. 3 seed from District 3, the same spot the Polar Bears found themselves in last year when they captured the state championship.
"We have to look to Monday and focus on going one game at a time," Czerwinski said.
Hepler added, "We'd rather trade a district championship for a state championship. Chapter four was districts, chapter five is states."
at Hershey H.S.
WEST YORK 8, NORTHERN 1
Northern 000 001 0 -- 1 4 2
West York 102 401 x -- 8 11 2
Nor, Vince Apicella, Rusty Simmoneau (4), Jordan Miller (5) and Jon Mayer; WY, Kaden Hepler and Jesse Bortner. SO-BB -- Nor, Apicella 2-1, Simmoneau 0-0, Miller 2-1; WY, Hepler 7-2. W -- Hepler. L -- Apicella. 2B -- WY, Jerrin Toomey 2, Brandon Kinneman, Chase James.