One day after his team punched a ticket to the state tournament for the first time since 1993, Arlington Martin coach Curt Culbertson was more worried about time to bounce back than facing Houston Cypress Ranch on Friday.
The UIL announced pairings Sunday for all classifications. Martin will play its semifinal at noon Friday at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
Three area teams have advanced to the state baseball tournament, which will be Wednesday through Saturday in Round Rock.
Class 2A Brock: 2001, 2006, 2010
4A Cleburne: 1979, 2004
5A Martin: 1990, 1993
Cleburne will face Austin Lake Travis in a Class 4A semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday, also in Round Rock.
But Culbertson said once he knows how his players react and recover from the grind of a nail-biting regional series with Southlake Carroll, the focus will change after five weeks of mini-series playoff baseball gives way to straight elimination games in the state tournament.
"Hopefully with three series that went to a third game, that gives our guys some idea and preparation for what it will be like to play in that environment," he said.
Having no real scouting report Sunday on Cy Ranch, Culbertson said senior lefty Nick Hendrix is the likely semifinal starter Friday.
Hendrix is coming off a playoff stretch in which he's gone 3-2 with a 1.06 ERA and stands at 9-2 on the season. It would be his only start in a playoff elimination game.
Cleburne's Max Reynolds was more philosophical Saturday about his team's first state tournament appearance since 2004.
He marveled at the reality of playing for Cleburne as an alumni after he graduated over the weekend. Martin's Culbertson lauded that approach.
"What a great perspective to have," he said. "Everyone's excited here in southwest Arlington. There were thousands at the Southlake game Saturday, and our supporters have been strong for us all year."
Cleburne meets a Lake Travis team making its first state tournament appearance. Yellow Jackets coach Ross Taylor said he plans to start pitcher German Hernandez, who's 5-0 in the playoffs with a 0.95 ERA and already has started two single-game elimination games in the postseason.
"German's earned it. He's really pitching now the way we thought he would earlier in the year," Taylor said. "I don't know that much about Lake Travis because we haven't played them, but I know they have a couple of great lefties and we haven't faced that much left-handed pitching."
Taylor said he wasn't surprised at the regional qualifiers but took note of how the playoffs always seem to unfold in a different way from conventional speculation.
"I've told my guys at this point it's going to be about winning 1-0 and 2-1 games, and I fully expect our semifinal to be low scoring," he said. "When you get to this position, it's about accepting the kind of team you are and the team you want to be."
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