Arlington Citizen-Journal

Warriors come up with big performances to reach regional final

Martin’s Trey Proffitt accounted for all three runs in the series-clinching May 23 victory against Abilene.
Martin’s Trey Proffitt accounted for all three runs in the series-clinching May 23 victory against Abilene. Special to the Star-Telegram

The Martin baseball team is preparing to play Keller in the 6A Region I final. That’s nothing new. It’s the third time in four years that the Warriors, who reached the state tournament in 2012 and 2013, are playing in the regional final. But it’s the first time that senior Trey Proffitt gets to share in the fun.

Proffitt, a senior outfielder, sat out the past two baseball seasons with injuries. Proffitt, who was also a receiver and punter on the football team, missed his sophomore season because of a broken hand and missed his junior season because of a fractured kneecap.

Now, he’s breaking the will of opponents. He had two hits and drove in all three runs in a 3-2 series-clinching victory against Abilene on May 23. The lefty’s one-out opposite-field single in the top of the seventh broke a 2-2 tie.

“I think it was a lot more pressure than a normal at-bat,” Proffitt said. “I was just trying to put the ball in play. It was one out, runner on third. If I could just put it in play, we score a run.”

The Warriors had been trying to lay down bunts earlier in the game. With runners on first and third, the Abilene third baseman played far down the line, perhaps expecting a bunt. Instead, Proffitt drilled an outside fastball to left field, past third base.

“The difference was one hit and run. ... I didn’t think they would double up Trey, but I didn’t want to take a chance at getting doubled up right there,” Martin coach Curt Culbertson said. “He hit a ball the other way and it was well hit.”

Timely hitting has been a crucial part of Martin’s playoff success. But the Warriors have been led by strong pitching and defense all season long. Junior hurler Eric Walker pitched a complete game in a Game 2 win against Abilene, then topped that feat six days later. He threw a complete game shutout Friday to even the regional semifinal series against Southlake Carroll at a game apiece. The Warriors, led by pitcher Nick Skeffington, out-dueled Carroll 8-2 in the deciding Game 3.

“He’s been great,” Proffitt said of Walker. “That’s what he’s been doing all year: holding it down.”

Against Abilene, Walker recorded the first 10 outs of the game without notching his first strikeout. It was a case of steady fundamental defense early. Then as the game wore on, Walker found his groove.

“We didn’t have to play exceptional defense; just routine baseball,” Culbertson said. “And then once he settled in, he kind of started hitting his spots and made them hit worse pitches.”

Walker, an LSU commitment who is also a quarterback for the football team, has the stamina to pitch with the same energy late in games as he displays in the early innings. “I felt so much adrenaline, so fired up,” he said of his performance against Abilene. “With the weather, I had to stay a little more warm than normal, but I felt good.”

Before losing to Carroll in Game 1 of the regional semifinal series, Martin’s most recent losses were to Lamar in the District 4-6A opener and one nondistrict Saturday game that was played mostly to give the Warriors, who had several nondistrict games rained out, more at-bats.

“Pitching’s been good all year. Defense has been good all year,” Proffitt said. “Our hitting came along about halfway through district. We started hitting real good.”

Walker is confident that Proffitt and company will keep supplying the key plays to give Martin a chance to win every time they take the field — this time with a trip to state on the line.

“It’s whoever comes out and gives it their all,” Walker said. “I think we’ve got a good team. … With our lineup, whoever goes out and pitches for us, I feel like we’ve got a chance to go out and win a game.”