CORNER BROOK — It's a tale of two teams heading into the opening game of the Corner Brook Bud Light Men's Softball League playoffs tonight.
While the 13-3 North Shore stand on the sidelines with their bye to the final intact, the 6-10 Transmission Experts Cardinals and the 5-11 Whelan's Gate squad will duke it out in a best-of-five semifinal to determine the other finalist.
The Gate have been on a roll as of late, stringing together a few victories to close out the season after suffering through an extended slump for the majority of the season.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals were at one time neck and neck with the Shore, but a late-season nosedive has thrown them for a loop.
"We're not taking them for granted," said Cardinals' Cory Hurley. "but we've got a better team than they do."
Hurley said his team's problems might stem from the notion they can simply "flick the switch" in the playoffs and begin to play competitive ball again.
"But it doesn't always turn out that way," he said. "We're at opposite ends of the spectrum right now."
The two teams met in the regular season finale on Wednesday night, with the Gate pulling off an 11-4 victory.
"We were hoping that would be a tune-up going into the playoffs," Hurley admitted. "It didn't turn out too well."
Still, he believes in his initial assessment — that his team simply has too much talent to lose the series.
"We've got to figure out if we're the team we think we are or if we're the team we've been the last few weeks," he said, noting they'll have to be sharper in the field against their young, quick opposition. "That's been our biggest problem lately, we're booting the ball around all over the place."
The Gate's Jordan Kennedy wasn't pulling any punches regarding his thoughts on the series.
"I think we're going to surprise them and sweep them to be honest," he said. "Throughout the year I don't think anybody thought we were a threat, but now we've got the chemistry together as a team."
Hitting has been a strength for the team, an area it struggled in earlier in the year. They're the youngest club in the three-team setup, with some players still getting used to the sport, but it appears that particular mission has been accomplished at this point.
"Everyone kind of got with it and now we're going to bring it into the playoffs," Kennedy said.
He said the 11-4 win last week was a huge boost of confident for the club, but he knows they'll need a three-peat of that performance in order to advance to face North Shore.
"These aren't going to be 1-0 or 2-0 games, they're a good offensive team," Kennedy said. "We've got to be strong on offence, but still tight on defence like we showed in our last game against them."
Game 1 of the series goes tonight 8:45 p.m. at Fred Basha Memorial Park A Diamond.