PALMYRA, Mo. -- Most teams ignore their state ranking. The Palmyra baseball team embraced it.
It had nothing to do with being the No. 1 team in Class 3 in the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association poll, and everything to do with the target that came with it.
"I think it worked out best for us because we were seeing other team's best pitching," Palmyra senior shortstop Nolan Wosman said. "Now we're playing teams, and we've seen their best guys. I think that's the best thing for us."
It has Palmyra confident it can capture a Class 3 District 7 crown after having its string of four straight titles snapped last season in a 3-0 loss to Clark County in the title game.
"It definitely left a bitter taste in our mouth," said Wosman, a University of Arkansas signee. "I think we overlooked that game because we had been there five years in a row.
"That was a shock to everyone because we thought that was our year to make a deep run."
Palmyra (19-4) is the top seed in the district and will play either fourth-seeded Highland or fifth-seeded Monroe City in the semifinals Monday.
"We've got the maturity with our upperclassmen, and they understand where we're at," Palmyra coach Mark Loman said. "They started at sophomores and played in a quarterfinal game. That's really unusual to have a team dominated by sophomores play at that level and go deep."
That experience has made them formidable as seniors.
Palmyra has four players with more than 70 plate appearances hitting better than .400 this season. The offense hits for power, too, with 48 doubles and 19 homers while scoring 233 runs in 23 games.
Still, it's the smaller things that has Loman believing Palmyra has improved.
"Not that we're immune to striking out, but we've really cut down on that," he said. "I think our guys focused on trying on looking at the things we can control like cutting down on strikeouts and more emphasis on defense, and I've been really proud of our guys for doing that."
A fifth district in title in six years would validate that.
"We're eager," Wosman said. "We're really ready to get into playoff mode and make that final push and do something that's never been done here at Palmyra."
The confidence is undoubtedly there.
"I think they understand we are going to see team's best pitchers from here on out," Loman said. "They've seen enough competition and played enough baseball that I don't think we'll be intimidated by anything."