Legacy took care of business in its bi-district round baseball playoff series this past weekend, sweeping out Whitehouse with 4-2 and 4-3 victories. Even though it was a matchup of district champs versus a fourth seed, as the scores might indicate, it was no walk in the ballpark for the Broncos.
“We feel very fortunate to have won that series,” Legacy coach David Walden said. “They really pitched well and we feel really fortunate to match our pitching up with theirs and to come out on top.”
Whitehouse advanced to the state tournament last season and returned a lot of its arms from that club. It finished tied for third in District 16-4A, but lost several close games, and Walden felt they could easily have won that league.
Cole Hearrean took the hill for the Broncos in Friday’s opener and helped his cause by having a good night at the plate.
“Cole pitched an incredible game, and on top of that he had two or three RBIs,” Walden said. “He had a great game at the plate; he had a great game on the mound.”
As might be expected, it was the experienced players who came up big for the Broncos in their first playoff test of the season. Shortstop Sam Mahofski and catcher Corey Murray both earned the praise of Walden, who also noticed some butterflies from his club.
“There was no doubt we were very nervous. Nervous and tight,” Walden said. “They played well, but you could tell the way they were handling themselves that they were not as relaxed as they were coming down the stretch in district. And that’s just normal.”
Only a handful of Broncos gained experience in the postseason a year ago; most players this year are rookies to playoff baseball. But the victory in Game 1 relieved some of the pressure, allowing Game 2 starter Blake Wilson to take the mound without facing elimination.
“I thought all the pressure was on them, so I could relax and just throw the ball and let it be because I know I have a great defense behind me.” Wilson said. “We were relaxed because we knew all the pressure was on them.”
Wilson responded by tossing a complete game for the win, but admits his defense played a major factor in his success.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates ... so I’ve got to thank them,” he said.
One in particular, second baseman Aaron Jones, came up huge more than a few times.
“That game could have gone either way,” Walden said. “He had four outstanding plays at second. If he misses any one of those balls, that game is completely different. He was just incredible. He really kind of saved the day for us.”
Dalton Dunn also broke out of a hitting slump for a critical hit in Game 2.
“He hit a bullet into the corner and got us two RBIs,” Walden noted.
Legacy will face McKinney North in the next round, and Walden is hoping a lot of the butterflies will be gone.
“I hope they got a lot of the nervous tension out,” the coach said. “There’s only three or four kids that played in the playoffs last year. I knew they were going to be nervous this last weekend. I hope that the nerves will calm down, and I think they will.”
Wilson is confident in his club, so long as it sticks with what got it here.
“If we just play the way we know we can play every weekend, we can keep playing for a while,” he said.
He also thinks a special approach to training can pay dividends this postseason. Unlike the usual Tuesday-Friday schedule of the regular season, playoff baseball turns into weekend series.
“Coach Walden has talked to us all year about how on Saturdays you’ve got to be able to wake up, get out there and play,” Wilson said. “It’s something we’ve been training for for a while now. It’s something we feel like we’ve got an edge on other teams because we know how to wake up on Saturdays and win.”