The inability to create the most of the opportunities afforded Fossil Ridge spelled the end of the season for the Panthers baseball team, as they lost in two games to Amarillo Tascosa in the Region I Area round playoffs.
Ridge lost to Tascosa, 3-0 and 2-0 at Quik Trip Park in Grand Prairie last weekend.
“It was a combination of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of and not having the right guys up and we just didn’t come through,” said Fossil Ridge head coach Doug Dulany. “Tascosa made every play that could have gone either way,” he said.
“Give them credit,” Dulany said. “They have a chance to get to the regional finals. We knew they were really good. They have three pitchers that throw 87-89 miles per hour. They have a lead-off shortstop that’s hitting .375 and their 3-and 4-hole hitters are hitting .400.”
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Stalwart competition aside, Fossil Ridge still was in the fight in the close game, but just couldn’t get the hits or plays to turn the tide.
“When we did get a hit, we’d hit it right at them and we couldn’t turn the momentum,” Dulany said.
An example was a solid, well-hit ball by the Panthers’ Christian Hollie which Dulany said would have easily cleared the home field fence at Fossil Ridge. But at Quik Trip Park, the Tascosa outfielder made a leaping catch to turn back a chance to put runs on the board.
“At our ballpark, that ball is on North Tarrant (Parkway),” Dulany said of Hollie’s connection.
Even with the scores being close affairs, the Panthers still had to fight their way out of a few jams to keep it close and give themselves a chance.
“It was a good year,” Dulany acknowledged. “We had a lot of question marks going into the year, team-wise. We struggled at the plate early, but we still were able to finish second in district.”
The key for Fossil Ridge, Dulany said, was pitching, defense and timely hitting.
And when the Panthers return for next season, two pitchers will be back from a team which loses 13 seniors this year.
“I like our younger players and we’ve had one of the better freshmen groups we’ve seen this year,” Dulany added.
More importantly, Fossil Ridge has been building the expectations of being in the playoffs and making it at least a few rounds deep. The Panthers are on a three-year streak of playoff appearances, and even the younger players have built postseason experience.
“Good programs have that expectation and build in that responsibility for motivation. That’s where we’re at now with our players,” Dulany said.