Ever since the end of last year's season, the baseball teams of Southern Fulton and Meyersdale have seemed to be on a crash course toward each other.

"We basically knew even after last year's district championship, we seemed like we were destined to face each other again this year," Indian coach Dustin Fischer said.

Destiny has been fulfilled, and on Thursday afternoon, the teams will have the rematch they've both been waiting for. At 4:30 at Everett, Southern Fulton and Meyersdale will play for the District 5 Class A championship, with the victor earning a spot in the PIAA Tournament.

Southern Fulton (21-2) is the No. 1 seed, and Meyersdale (20-2) is right behind as No. 2.

What's more, both coaches are confident but know that the game very well may be up in the air.

"Well, if the trends continue for both teams, we're going to expect a low-scoring pitchers' duel," Raiders coach Wayne Miller said. "Last year, we lost because of errors in the field, so we're going to need sound defense to win. But they're probably hearing the same thing from Fischer."

Fischer said, "It's not going to be some high-scoring affair. It's who can do the little things right and have the least amount of mistakes."

There will be no surprises on the mound, either. Connor Christner (7-2) gets the nod for Meyersdale, while SF will give the ball to Trent Rider (8-1).

"The best way we can practice for a guy like Trent is playing against our own guys," Miller said. "We're familiar with him, and I know we can be a little aggressive because he doesn't issue walks. But what makes him so difficult is not just how fast he can throw, but he also throws three pitches for strikes."

Rider has thrown 54 1/3 innings this year and has a 1.03 ERA. He has struck out 89 batters and walked only three. He has given up only eight earned runs and five extra-base hits. But he'll be matched by Christner, who has 58 2/3 innings under his belt. He has a 1.19 ERA and although he has walked 24, he has also fanned 96.

Meyersdale is also comfortable with brother Riley Christner coming in to relieve if it gets to that point.

"His younger brother Riley is back, so he is available," Miller said. "We may use both at some point in the game."

The teams have met once this season, and the Raiders came out on top, 5-1, but Rider was not pitching. The offense for Southern Fulton has also steadily improved since the two played in the third game of the season.

"Our bats are really coming around," Fischer said. "Connor (Litton) and Dillan (Lashley) are both hitting the ball well now, and some of our slow starts to the year are starting to come around now. A lot of our big hitters did not do a lot when we played the first time."

Southern Fulton is currently led by Tristan Douglas, who is batting .465, and leadoff batter Dylan Gordon is right behind with a .451 average. Rider and Zach Clark are also both hitting above .400, and Litton (.397) and Carl Potter (.381) are right in the mix.

For Meyersdale, Connor Christner is also the team's leading hitter with a batting average of .480.

"We have a handful of guys that have stepped up at different times," Miller said. "Zach Hotchkiss (.383), Jason Ritchey (.371), Brady McKenzie (.338), Logan White (.361) and even Riley (.400) have all provided hits when we needed them. We're not a super offensive team that is going to get doubles and home runs all the time, but 1 through 9, we have kids that can put the ball in play."

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