Even though their record appears modest from the casual observer, the Sylvan Hills Bears have reason to be optimistic going into this weekend’s 5A state tournament in Jonesboro.

The Bears were atop the 5A-Central for the majority of the season until a hiccup against Pulaski Academy pushed them back into third place due to the sweeping tiebreaker against PA.

But that doesn’t deter from what the Bears have accomplished.

The Bears play Vilonia at 2:30 on Thursday at Valley View High School, a team they have seen twice already this season. Each team has a win in the two previous matchups.

Head coach Denny Tipton said he feels confident about his team coming out on top in Thursday’s first round over the Eagles.

"I like our chances," Tipton said. "With the teams we’ve played, and the two we’ve played against them were good close games."

Tipton said as many coaches that pitching will be key. The ball first goes to J.D. Miller, who has been Tipton’s No. 1 starter all season.

"He’s had a great year," Tipton said of his senior. "He had one bad inning in the first game."

That inning in the first game was the first inning where Miller allowed five runs against Thursday’s opponent. Since then, Miller has been the pillar of consistency.

"He allowed four straight hits against PA, "Tipton said, "but other than that, he’s done well since that first inning against Vilonia."

Tipton said along with pitching, the key to Thursday’s matchup is pretty simple.

"In the years I’ve been doing this, I found out that when two good teams play, the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins," Tipton said.

Limiting walks and errors on defense and getting timely hits should make the difference in a one and done and the advancement to the second round.

It all starts for the Bears on Thursday.