If you find yourself at a Southlake Carroll baseball game, don’t leave early — no matter the score.
The Dragons (32-4) are ranked No. 4 in the country by Baseball America, and have used some magic to reach the Class 5A regional semifinals, winning their past four games in the final inning.
Carroll’s stretch of late-inning heroics began in the area round against San Angelo Central, when the Dragons scored three runs in the top of the seventh for a 6-4 victory in Game 1.
A day later, a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh by Joe Heineman gave Carroll a 2-1 walk-off victory and moved the Dragons to the regional quarterfinals against Midland.
In Game 1 of that series, the Dragons scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 victory. They scored three runs in the eighth inning in Game 2 for a 9-8 victory and another series sweep.
“You always hope you have a team that, when they get down, they find a way to win the game,” Carroll coach Larry Hughes said. “We were down three runs, we were down four runs; we don’t give up.”
Hughes said that for any team to win games coming from behind, it needa players who can come through in the clutch. For Carroll, that includes Chris Altimont and Kenny Hill, the team’s RBI leaders.
“Those guys have been key guys for us,” Hughes said. “They’ve got a lot of key hits for us all year and in the playoffs. It seems like they’re coming up at the right place and the right time and they’ve been able to deliver for us.”
Finding their way
Mansfield Legacy has come a long way since it began the season.
Facing Frisco Liberty (24-9) this week for a berth in the Class 4A Region II finals, the Broncos (25-12) know exactly who they are and where they are. That wasn’t the case before the season.
“We were real unsure about how much success we would have because we graduated a really strong senior class last year,” coach David Walden said. “We knew there was some talent, but we didn’t know where the leadership was going to come from or how they would play under pressure. There were a lot of unknowns.”
And things didn’t get off to a fast start for the Broncos.
“It took forever for us to get to .500 because we’d lost so many games early,” Walden said. ““They could have all jumped ship but they didn’t.”
Legacy is now marching toward the best season in the school’s six-year history. Walden is quick to give all the credit to the players.
“I don’t think it’s so much what we’ve done as coaches,” he said. “I think there’s some very talented kids at Legacy that love to play baseball, and we’ve just got them headed in the right direction.”
The Kennedale pitching staff seems to have saved its best stuff for the later rounds of the playoffs.
Having gone almost three weeks between meaningful games, due to the Wildcats (28-7) earning a bye in the Class 3A bi-district round, the pitching got off to a slow start in the postseason. But the arms seem to be returning to form.
“Our pitching keeps proving that it’s better than what people think,” coach Jet Teague said. “They’re just fighters; they just get out there and throw strikes. It’s been a really good aspect to our team this year. I’m really proud of the pitching.”
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