The Carroll baseball team swept San Angelo Central out of the playoffs in the regional quarterfinals this past weekend, but coach Larry Hughes said his team definitely had its hands full.
The Dragons will face their biggest challenge of the year this coming Thursday when they open their regional semifinals series with Flower Mound, and Hughes said the Jaguars are a force to be reckoned with.
“They have seven (Division I college) signees, and their pitching staff is outstanding,” Hughes said. “That's the strength of their team. But, if you don't pitch real well against them, they can put up runs against you as well. You have to have good pitching performances against them, and their pitchers will really test our offense.”
Carroll defeated San Angelo Central in two straight games by scores of 3-2 and 6-4, and Hughes said that the series was just as hard fought as he had expected.
“It was definitely very close,” Hughes said. “There were some defining moments during the games and it was pretty much what we expected. It was two number one (pitchers) going at each other, and the games were decided in the sixth and seventh inning.
“The guys hung in there and played well. We really played solid in all phases. Offensively, we swung the bat well and got timely hits. The pitching and defense also did a great job.”
Hughes said he had one player do an especially good job for his team on the offensive side of things.
“Barry Casey had some real good at bats,” Hughes said just after the series ended. “He has been at DH all year, and he has really stood out. I know he was 2-for-3 yesterday in the second game, with three RBI. He put the ball and made things happen in both games. He was on base quite a bit.”
The Dragons have advanced to the fourth round of the postseason and a state tournament berth is within sight, but Hughes said he does not believe his team will get ahead of itself and overlook any opponent, including Flower Mound.
“It's not real hard to do,” Hughes said. “Everybody is really focused on the next team, and we've never had a problem with that. Everyone knows what the goal is, and we try to get them to focus on that every day in practice.
“When we got out of our locker room door, there is a sign that reads 'championships start here,' and I think that helps to keep them to focus,” Hughes said. “Our guys are pretty smart, and they know what to do.”
Carroll will play Flower Mound at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Flower Mound High School, 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Carroll and at Dallas Baptist University at 1 p.m. on Saturday if necessary.