There is value in milestones. So when Byron Nelson’s baseball team reached double-digit district wins, it continued the program’s growth.
The Bobcats (16-6, 10-4 in District 5-6A) swept both games from Keller Fossil Ridge to secure second place and to reach that mark for the first time in school history. They lost a non-district game to Euless Trinity this past Saturday, 13-5, but used the week to prepare for their Region I bi-district playoff series against Lewisville Hebron (18-8).
Like every other postseason series, the potential of this best-of-three series to be played as scheduled is going to be a wait-and-see scenario because of forecasted inclement weather. The opener is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hebron. The teams meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Trophy Club. A deciding third game would be set for 7 p.m. Saturday at McKinney Boyd. However, Nelson coach Mike Killian said that time could be changed. Boyd features an all-turf field.
This series should challenge the Bobcats’ lineup. The Hawks feature two solid starting pitchers in Zach DeLoach (7-1, 0.88 ERA, 58 K in 48 innings) and David Rodriguez (4-2, 1.88, 56 K in 41 innings).
“We’re going to have a good approach at the plate and take advantage of every pitch that we can handle,” Killian said. “Each of their starters throws explosive sliders. We have to know if they are throwing that pitch for strikes or if they’re going to be throwing those pitches to make us chase.”
The Hawks lineup offers power. Junior third baseman Michael Neustifter has belted six home runs and has protection around him. So this is not a case where the Nelson pitching staff can pitch around Neustifter and take its chances with other spots.
Killian had not decided how he was going to set his rotation between senior right-hander Gaige Vines and junior left-hander Will Bresnhan. Killian could also consider junior right-hander Conner Prado. The staff was using the first half of the week to put together its scouting report.
While no one will confuse Fossil Ridge’s pitching staff with Hebron’s, Nelson’s offense does have a little bit of momentum. The Bobcats scored 25 total runs in their final three regular season between the Panthers and Trinity.
“We’ve been getting some good swings between Bryan Seamster, Kevin Lentzner, Briton Schiewe and Gabe Luna,” Killian said. “They’re getting on base and finding a way of creating runs. It’s going to be a series where we have to play our best.”
The winner of this series meets the winner of Coppell-Cedar Hill in the area round.
The Texans (10-15-1, 4-10 in 5-6A) finished their regular season last week with losses to Keller, 12-1 and 7-3. Northwest finished the regular season in last place. Head coach John Herrick’s young team found itself in the middle of at least five district games that were close going into the late innings before falling.
Still, there is hope that the program will continue to move forward and become a playoff contender in 2016. This roster is led by junior right-handers Bailey Dovel and Dustin May, sophomore third baseman Austin Whitelock, sophomore first baseman Cade Ward and sophomore catcher Doger Gilliland.
“I really looking forward to all of the juniors and sophomores returning,” Herrick said.