The Mansfield baseball team defeated South Grand Prairie 6-2 on Friday to wrap up the regular season with a 13-1 mark in district competition and claim the District 7-5A title.
Mansfield will take on Temple in the opening round of the playoffs, and coach Gary Vaughn said that he is not sure what to expect, but he knows one thing for certain.
“Everybody in the playoffs has pretty good pitching,” Vaughn said. “So they've got some good arms. They started off slow in the year, but when they got to district, they really turned it on. I know they are playing at a high level at this point in time. We're expecting to have a competitive series, and we have to do the things we have been doing and not deviate from that, and we'll see how things go.”
Mansfield plays Temple at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night at Temple, Friday night at 7:30 at Mansfield, and if a third game is necessary, it will be played at Waco ISD field two.
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The 6-2 victory over South Grand Prairie pulled the Tigers one game ahead of Midlothian in the district standings, and even though Mansfield had already captured a district title, Vaughn said it is nice to have it outright.
“It was a game where we wanted to finish out our district schedule on a high note, but in the back of our minds, we knew that we didn't have to win that game to be district champs or get into the playoffs,” Vaughn said. “I encouraged my guys to continue playing hard and competing, and lets just see at the end of two hours where we stood. We came out pretty good. They were really fired up, because they needed to win to get into the playoffs. They came out and got ahead and got the momentum.
“I just kept encouraging our guys to stick with our game and that things would probably shift in our direction before it was over. We had a big sixth inning, and the next thing we know, we are leading the game, momentum is on our side, and we finished it out with strong pitching.”
Mansfield wrapped up the regular season with a 25-5 overall record and is ranked among the top programs in the state, and Vaughn said he is extremely pleased with how his team has performed.
“I had no idea what we were going to have or how well these kids were going to come together and compete,” Vaughn said. “It's just been amazing watching the kids on a daily basis working hard on their game. When the lights are on, they compete as a unit, and the chemistry is just something I haven't seen in a long time with a group of young men. I'm really proud of them.”
To have a long playoff run and rival for a state championship, Vaughn said it will take a few things.
“We've got to continue to play our defensive game,” Vaughn said. “Our pitchers have been coming in and doing a phenomenal job of putting out fires or keeping people off bases, and we've got to continue doing that. We have also made real good strides in adjusting to different pitchers. If we can continue to do that, there is no reason that we can't be in the games late with a chance to win.”