EFFINGHAM (WCIA) — When Effingham baseball’s season began with three straight losses, outscored by 13 runs in that stretch, senior pitcher Josh McDevitt knew something needed to change.

“If anybody watched us this regular season, nobody would’ve thought we’d make it this far,” McDevitt said.

But after beating Mahomet-Seymour and MLB Draft prospect Blake Wolters back in April, McDevitt says the season hit a turning point.

“We beat Blake Wolters. That was a huge confidence boost for us,” McDevitt said. “I don’t think anybody, even including us, we didn’t expect to win that one. Even though our record wasn’t very good, we competed against the best teams in the area so whenever we got into playoffs, we knew we could go up with the best of them.”

After that the Flaming Hearts took off, turning their 4-9 record to 18-9 in their last 27 games. McDevitt led the charge from the mound with a 0.68 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched this season.

“He’s been hot every since then and he’s been throwing lights out,” catcher Myles Maxedon said. “It’s pretty easy to catch a guy that’s doing that every game. Every since that game we’ve kind of been on fire together.”

With their bats starting to get hot as well, averaging nearly six runs per game in the postseason, Hearts head coach Curran McNeely says the team never got down after its slow start.

“Relying on the process and trusting the process that we have and just continuing to put in the work day in and day out and not getting too down on ourselves,” McNeely said.

As underdogs heading into state for the first time in 81 years, the Flaming Hearts will have a tough matchup against 32-7 Grayslake Central on Friday morning.