ARLINGTON -- Not even the gray clouds looming over Warrior Field could deter the joyful moods Thursday of the family members and friends of the Arlington Martin baseball team.
The Warriors were getting a sendoff to Round Rock and the UIL Class 5A state tournament. A crowd of about 50 people gathered to celebrate what has already been a memorable season.
The farewell was complete with carefully wrapped goodie bags for the players. Even though classes have been out for almost a week, a student drum line thumped a pep rally vibe into the festivities as a charter bus arrived to take the team on its final road trip of the year.
"It means everything," coach Curt Culbertson said of the brief event. "This community has supported us a lot longer than I've been here. It's been a very supportive baseball community, and it was evident all the way through these playoffs."
The Warriors, who are 36-5-1 this season (14-0 record in district play), were treated with the goodie bags prepared by their parents. Donna Larkins, the mother of sophomore pitcher Turner Larkins, helped with the festivities.
"This is so amazing," she said. "This is just beyond all of our expectations when we first started. This is just a great, great group of kids and the parents are just amazing, too. Everybody participates, and it's been a lot of fun."
Arlington Martin's last state title came in 1993. A victory today against Houston Cypress Ranch (30-8) in Round Rock would leave the Warriors one win away from breaking the championship drought.
"It's exciting," senior shortstop Mitchell Peck said. "It's awesome to be going here in my senior year. We feel pretty confident about going in there and getting a state championship. It's almost like a dream come true. What better way is there to end your senior year than to win a state championship with all of your buds?"
Peck said the support the team has received from fans has been a key to its success all season.
"It's awesome getting good-luck texts from all of your friends that you've grown up with. Or even just being at a restaurant or LA Fitness and wearing a Martin baseball shirt, and people are coming up and saying good luck. It's been a lot of fun."
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