Young Bobcats surge to head back to playoffs

Posted Monday, Apr. 28, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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At 1-3 to begin District 5-4A play, Byron Nelson coach Mike Killian was concerned but didn’t panic.

A team with seven new faces on the 2014 roster would need some time before it came together. But that’s not a guarantee that it ever will. The Bobcats did find a way to regroup. They won eight of their last 10 games to finish third and clinch a playoff berth. Denton Guyer won the district followed Wichita Falls.

The Bobcats (18-14, 9-5) open the playoffs against Saginaw Boswell in a best-of-three format. The entire series is scheduled to be played at Grapevine High School. The first two games are 7:30 p.m. starts on Thursday and Friday. A potential deciding third game is scheduled for noon on Saturday. The winner advances to the area round, where it will face the winner of Fort Worth Arlington Heights-Burleson.

“Early on, the season was a struggle,” Killian said. “When you have a lot new faces in your lineup, it’s going to be difficult to start out with. But we got better as the year went on. We started to get some quality in our hitting and our pitching picked up.”

Killian was modest when it came to his new faces. He didn’t even mention his two primary starting pitchers, junior right-hander Alex Johnston and sophomore left-hander Brian Seamster, who had two varsity innings pitched between them prior to the season.

Still, these two became strike throwers despite not dominating opposing lineups. Killian said Seamster relied on pretty good movement on his pitchers, while Johnston managed to hit his spots and give his defense a chance to make the plays.

As has been his pattern all year, Killian said he probably will not decide on who starts Thursday until that morning.

The rest of the pitching will center on the sophomore right-hander Jack Waggoner, who has a win and two saves. There are other names to consider between Bobby Jones and Kevin Lentzner.

Versatility is a plus

The one thing about Seamster is that if he’s not on the mound, he’s doing plenty of damage at the plate.

He has served as the team’s leadoff hitter and has been consistent getting on base and starting rallies. But it’s not only Seamster, the top of the Bobcats’ lineup has been very productive.

Senior outfielder Chase Collins has been consistent hitting second for a good portion of the season. Jones, a senior who also doubles at first base, has been batting third and hit well over .300 in district play and had a much better second half of the season.

Another sophomore to watch is shortstop Gabe Luna, who has been making contact and providing a steady influence in the middle of the infield.

“What’s been really nice is that this group has done a real good job of growing up,” Killian said. “There have been some mistakes. But we just have to keep putting things together, have some good at-bats and gain some more experience.”

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