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Looking to repeat history
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Monroes Noah Rucker looks to drive a ball in a game Monday against Orfordville. The 15-year-old Monroe baseball team will open up the VFW Teen League State tournament in Monroe with a game against Deerfield at 2 p.m. Friday.
MONROE - Jeff Klopfenstein can't help but hope that history repeats itself when Monroe hosts the VFW 15-year-old Teen League State tournament this weekend.

The last time Monroe won the championship in 2008, it was a No. 4 seed. This year, Monroe is again a No. 4 seed and will play Deerfield at 2 p.m. Friday. The state tournament runs Friday through Sunday at the high school field.

"It's quite an honor to just have it here," Klopfenstein said who coaches the Monroe team. "I hope we play well. If you lose, you are done."

The state tournament was funded by the VFW for many years. The VFW cut funding the tournament two years ago due to budget constraints, said Ken Gratz, who served as the VFW Teen League State chairman for six years. The league picked up funding the tournament, said Gratz, who is also a member on the Monroe Baseball Inc. Board of Directors.

"They had budget problems," he said. "They had to cut some place. We still call it the VFW Teen League State tournament because that adds a little to it."

The tournament is not only a chance to showcase the team, but the field, said Dale Losenegger, president of Monroe Baseball Inc.

Losenegger said since 1995, most of the improvements to the facility have been completed through volunteer work and donations.

"A very small portion of taxpayer money has been used in the improvements," Losenegger said. "That's a point often missed by outsiders."

The most recent facility improvements at the field included a new press box and an irrigation system.

"At this time of year, if it wasn't for that (irrigation system) that field would not look that green," Losenegger said. "I think the playing surface is an excellent playing surface for a high school field."

If Monroe (6-11) can beat Deerfield Friday, they would move on to play Jefferson at 2 p.m. Saturday. Monroe was swept by No. 1 seed Waunakee in two games this summer. However, Monroe had leads late in both games before losing 10-7 and 8-5.

"We have to play error-free ball to beat them," Klopfenstein said. "If we play well, we could get through."

Klopfenstein said team defense has kept Monroe in most games.

"We have to come through with some key hits," he said. "We have left a lot of runners stranded. The kids will have to step it up at the plate."

Klopfenstein said the favorites are Waunakee, Sun Prairie, Oconomowoc and Jefferson.

"It's a toss-up," he said.

Klopfenstein is prepared to pull out all the stops in a must-win game.

"I have seven pitchers and I will pitch all of them if I need to win that first game," he said.