Ford & Sons has won seven of its last eight games.
With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season the Cape Girardeau American Legion team looked like it would limp into the District 14 tournament at Dunklin County a heavy underdog.
But after suffering through a nine-game losing streak and falling 10 games under .500, Ford & Sons ended the regular season by winning seven of eight games.
"I think it's going to be wide open now," Cape coach Dave Meyr said. "We're staring to play quite a bit better ball."
Ford & Sons (17-21), despite its late-season run, is seeded fifth in the six-team tournament, which begins today. Cape will face district newcomer Twin Rivers at 5 p.m. The two teams split a doubleheader during Cape's late-season run.
Top-seed and district host Dunklin County and No. 2 Sikeston will each receive first-round byes. Scott County, the district's other first-year team, is seeded sixth and will face No. 3 Jackson at 8 p.m. today.
The district champion will move on to the Zone 4 tournament hosted by Jackson. As zone host, Jackson is already guaranteed a spot in the zone. If Jackson wins the district, the runner-up also would advance to the zone.
"I don't know if you can really pick out a favorite," Jackson manager Mark Lewis said. "I think quite a few teams could win it."
Cape's resurgeance late in the season is attributed to the pitching staff, which features three Notre Dame starters -- Jeremy Brinkmeyer, Kirk Boeller and Blake Essner -- along with Cory Huskey, who ran track this spring at Central. Huskey picked up a win Saturday with six innings of relief work against Scott County.
Reliever Michael Taylor has been consistent closing out games.
"The pitching's starting to come around better," Meyr said. "We're not walking as many people. We're keeping them off base. We're fielding better.
"The hitting's been there, but we weren't getting the timely hits," he added. "It seems now we're getting the hits with runners in scoring position."
Even though there will be no pressure on Jackson to win the district, Lewis wants his team to play its best ball entering the zone tournament.
Jackson finished second at the district last year to Sikeston, which was a zone host. That allowed both teams to move on to the zone.
"It's nice to know we'll be in the zone tournament anyway," Lewis said, "but we'd still like to earn our way there by winning the district," Lewis said.
Jackson (23-12), which won 11 straight games to close the regular season, is led on the mound by Jackson High School graduates Jason Meystedt and Tyler Beussink. Fellow Jackson graduate Brandon Gendron has carried the hottest bat over the final few weeks of the season, including a three-home run game.