Any long playoff run is sure to bring adversity. That was the case last week for the Colleyville Heritage baseball team.
In the long run, the tough finish that Colleyville Heritage senior right-hander Alex Scherff experienced in the playoff-clinching win against Wichita Falls Rider may be to his benefit.
A seasoned Rider team didn’t roll over, made the Texas A&M signee use everything beyond his plus fastball and brought the tying run to the plate in the 7th inning.
But he got out of it. Scherff kept the Panthers (33-3) season going as they swept the Raiders, 3-0 and 6-3, and advanced to the Class 5A Region I quarterfinals this week against Justin Northwest (26-9).
Weather permitting, that best-of-three series scheduled for Clay Gould Ballpark at UTA is to begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by 7:30 p.m. Friday. A potential deciding game would begin at noon on Saturday.
If predicted thunderstorms materialize, the series will shift to Northwest V.R. Eaton since that field is an artificial surface.
“It was good for us and Alex to deal with some adversity,” Colleyville Heritage coach Alan McDougal said. “They’re a very talented team. Things were a bit unsteady for us. But the deeper you go, the more tested you’re going to be.”
Scherff’s outing following Michael Stanford’s complete game two-hit shutout on Thursday. Given that Stanford can keep the Panthers defense aligned properly, he could be turning into the popular choice to open the series.
The Texans, who swept Birdville in their area playoff, are enjoying their best season in 10 years. They feature senior right-hander Doger Gilliland (8-1, 1.31 earned-run average) who has been pretty steady throughout the season, followed by Hunter Brill (7-2, 1.27). Tanner Tredaway is one of the better hitters in the area not discussed. He’s hitting .472.
“I’m really happy with the way our squad is focused and playing right now,” Northwest coach John Herrick said.
Carroll vs. Allen
The Dragons starting pitching staff might get the headlines from their sweep of Waco Midway in the Class 6A Region I area playoff series 3-2 and 6-1.
But the defense has served as the constant throughout the spring. Carroll (26-10-2) faces Allen in the best-of-three quarterfinal round at Dallas Baptist University. Thursday’s opener is at 5 p.m. Friday is at 8 p.m. A potential deciding third game would be at 3 p.m. The Dragons are further along in this postseason than in 2016 when they were eliminated in the area round.
Early in the season, head coach Larry Vucan searched for the right infield setup. In the middle of the Highland Park tournament, he settled on junior Nik Millsap at first, junior Cade Bell at second, senior Jake Murphy at shortstop and junior Cole Johnson at third.
Defense can save runs and win series. The turning point was in the fifth inning of Game 1. With the tying run at second and two out, a ball ticketed into center field to produce the game-tying run was somehow flagged down by Murphy. Without looking, he flipped to Bell who was standing on the bag to nab the runner come from first to end the threat.
“You see that pay dividends with plays like that,” Vucan said. “These are guys who went through the Dragon Maker [Carroll football’s well chronicled offseason football boot camp], and just have that connection. They’re inseparable.”
In a series, defense could define if Carroll’s season will continue or not. Senior right-hander Kole Ramage is expected to make the start Thursday. He’s started the first game of the previous two playoff series.