The Carroll baseball team is among the strongest programs in the state once again in 2014, and with great pitching and a good offense appears to be positioned for another long playoff run.
The Dragons played Northwest on Tuesday after the press deadline and will travel to Keller at 7 p.m. on Friday where they hope to avenge a 3-1 loss on March 25 to the Indians.
“It's always a tough game when we play them,” coach Larry Hughes said. “Last year, we won both games, and they were one-run games. One was a 12-inning game. This past one was very close. They are always really up for us, as is Richland, and you always have to get the big hits when you have the opportunities and make plays. I think it will be close, and hopefully, we'll win it.”
The Dragons lost to Richland on Friday night by a score of 5-3, and Hughes said the loss was a simply a matter of poor execution late in the game.
“Richland is a good team, and they play real tough,” Hughes said. “They've got some really good bats in the line up, they pitched well, and it was really a close game. We went into the bottom of the sixth with a 3-2 lead, and we made a couple of crucial errors that cost us, and they capitalized on them.”
Hughes said that he is pretty pleased with how the team has performed to this points in the season, but added that he would like to see his team have more of a “killer instinct” at the plate.
“I'm real satisfied,” Hughes said. “Our overall record is 22-3, so we have won 22 of our 25 games this season. A lot of things have to go your way to do that well, but I also tell the kids that they have to make their breaks, which they have done. They can't just sit around waiting for them to happen, and we've competed well. Our pitching and our defense has really carried us.
“We've had a lot of close games, and our team ERA on the season is under one. That hurts us sometimes, because if we score two or three runs, it's not that we quit playing hard, but we kind of take it for granted that our pitching is going to carry us through.”
Hughes said his team is playing well as a unit this season, and added he has had a couple of stand out performances as well.
“I would say that from a hitting stand point, Eric Cole, our lead off hitter, has been very consistent all year,” Hughes said. “He's very fast, and when he gets on, it's hard to keep him from scoring. He is kind of a catalyst for our offense. Joe Heineman pitches and plays shortstop, and he has hit the ball well, too. Along with Garrett Hale, they have been pretty consistent all year.”
Hughes said he does believe that Carroll is positioned for another long run into the postseason in 2014.
“I think we are,” Hughes said. “We want to finish strong. We know we are going to lose a few games here and there, but I think we are capable of having another good showing in the playoffs.