By the time you read this on Wednesday, Colleyville Heritage’s baseball team will likely have done what it has always done – clinch a playoff berth.
Any win in the last four games or a Grapevine loss would send the Panthers back to the postseason for the eighth consecutive season. That’s as long as head coach Alan McDougal has been there. Colleyville had a winnable game on Tuesday against Irving High. The Panthers (16-11, 9-1 in District 6-5A) had won nine consecutive games going into the week.
“Colleyville Heritage has always had a good baseball reputation,” McDougal said. “We hoped we’ve improved it as well. As the kids keep coming through the program, they know what’s expected. Of course, we want to make some further runs. But I think there is a bit of swagger because we take pride in this kind of thing.”
But the playoffs are just part of what’s at stake. The Panthers are trying to capture the district championship. Should they have taken care of Irving, they play a key game on Friday at second-place Irving Nimitz. Going into the week, the Vikings were 8-2 in district play.
This season has been a run of streaks. This current winning streak has offset a seven-game losing streak that included a loss in the district opener to Euless Trinity. And McDougal has been doing this freshman right-hander Alex Scherff (3-0) and junior right-hander Mitch Stark (4-1).
Colleyville Heritage also got some good news last Friday when senior right-hander Jake Thompson returned to the mound after missing about a month with an elbow injury. He pitched two non-stressful innings in the 6-1 win over Irving MacArthur. That gives McDougal five reliable pitchers to use when the playoffs begin.
“I really like the competition that they have shown,” McDougal said of Scherff and Stark. “We have a dual-headed monster out there. But really all of our guys are two-pitch pitchers who can throw a third just to show it to hitters. They make quality pitches.”
Offense coming around
Colleyville Heritage’s team batting average is at .277 for the season. But that’s a rapid improvement over the last several weeks. The Panthers have hit 16 home runs and are averaging just a little more than five runs per game. Chris Scheff (.492, 4 HR, 22RBI), Griffin Tolle (.381, 3HR, 14RBI) and Trey Smith (.365, 4HR, 18RBI) have been the ringmasters of this group.
“We have better plans at the plate,” McDougal said. “Guys are making better passes at the ball, and we’re doing things differently than what we were doing from earlier in the year. They know they can play with a lot of good people.”
The Mustangs (13-13, 5-5 in 6-5A) are in a position where they pretty much have to win their final four games to just make sure they have a chance. That started on Tuesday against Carrollton R.L. Turner and is followed by Euless Trinity on Friday.
Grapevine trailed fourth-place Hurst L.D. Bell (7-3) by two games. The Mustangs scored 15 runs last week between their games against Colleyville Heritage and Irving. But there still needs to be more consistency on the mound. That’s why this team is on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
“I learned a long time ago that this isn’t a game about playing against anybody,” interim coach Jeff Harp said. “This is about playing the ball. This is still in our hands.”