The Merced Volunteers arrive in Yountville today with a bull's-eye on their back.
The Vols will begin their quest for a third straight American Legion state championship and fourth in five years.
"I believe everyone is going to be out to dethrone us," said Merced coach Rollo Adams.
"I've already received calls. The general manager of Charter Cove told me they are out to get us.
"That's what we expect. Teams like San Mateo and San Bernardino, who we've knocked out in the past, are back. I know they're looking for payback."
The Vols enter the state tournament with a 19-14 record.
They will also be making the trip without one of their top players.
Connor Oldcorn would probably have made the start on the mound today against Napa (29-17-1), however he won't make the trip because of a family obligation.
The former Buhach Colony standout was the Volunteers leading hitter with a .445 average, five homers and second on the team with 27 RBIs.
"Connor was our most consistent hitter all summer," Adams said. "I've seen him mature as a hitter in that No. 3 hole.
"He's leaves a big hole to fill."
Merced should still have plenty of offense.
Infielder Tynan Pedretti is hitting .370 with 28 RBIs and outfielder Daniel Benson brings a .355 average, four home runs and 24 RBIs with him to Yountville.
Adams isn't sure who he'll throw against Napa.
Dylan Floro, Cyle Bettis or Matt Voris will start the first three games in some order, Adams said.
"It doesn't really matter to me when I start," said Floro, who was drafted in the 20th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I'll be ready to go when I get the ball."
Floro is making his fourth trip to the state tournament. Teammates Benson, J.C Barcelo and Pedretti have all played on the Vols back-to-back state championship teams.
Napa will likely start Gavin Mills, who pitched for Santa Rosa Junior College this spring.
Mills struck out 14 hitters in an Area 1 tournament game last week.
The tournament gets underway this morning at 9 a.m. with Paramount facing San Bernardino.
San Mateo will play Charter Cove at noon.
It's a four-day, double-elimination tournament.
The top two tournaments qualify for a Western Regional tournament in either Fairfield or Medford, Ore.
"The goal is to get to a regional first," Adams said. "Then we'll worry about Tuesday.
"We feel good after what we did in South Dakota when we lost the first game and came back to win the tournament by winning seven straight games."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at email@example.com.