Note: This story has been corrected with the proper spelling of Marcus Dandridge’s name.
With its postseason destiny in its own hands, the Timberview baseball team found it’s still at the mercy of Mother Nature. The Wolves left school on Friday needing a win that night against Red Oak and a victory against Summit on Saturday to secure the program’s first-ever baseball playoff series.
The club never saw the diamond on Friday, as storms pushed the Red Oak matchup to Monday night and after the deadline for this story. So the scenario facing the Wolves entering this week was as follows:
A win versus Red Oak on Monday puts Timberview in the playoffs;
A loss to Red Oak, followed by a Red Oak loss to Arlington Seguin on Tuesday, would still put Timberview in the playoffs.
A loss to Red Oak and a Red Oak victory Tuesday over Seguin would force a play-in game between Timberview and Red Oak.
And of course, all that is based on weather permitting the games as scheduled. Check www.dfwvarsity.com for results and playoff updates.
But for Wolves coach Bobby Johnson and his players, the mindset following Saturday’s 7-1 victory over Summit was simple: This is already playoff baseball.
“We’ve treated the last three games like playoff games,” Johnson said. “We don’t want to make it bigger than it is in our minds. That’s where we start to struggle a little bit. Each one could be our last game and we’re going with that mentality, so bring your best game with you and let’s just see what happens.”
Johnson expected this could be the team to finally end the Wolves’ postseason drought. Just two years removed from a winless district campaign, the group has a balanced mixture of talent and determination that gave the locker room hope, even when others doubted.
“They’re fighters,” Johnson said. “They’re scrappy and they don’t really buy into the fact that coming into preseason we were picked to finish second- or third-to-last [in district]. They just never bought that. They always believed they could do it, and they go into each game believing they can do it. And they put up a good fight.”
Second baseman Micah Walker also recognizes the squad’s limitations, but has a warning for those who judge this team on its predecessors.
“We’re not a team that’s going to overpower you in any aspect of the game, but we scratch together what we need to win,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll really hurt you if you take us lightly.”
Walker, who transferred from Lindale over the summer, leads the team in RBI and is among those Johnson credits for powering this team at the plate.
“We have a few seniors that have really hit the ball well for us,” Johnson said.
Center fielder Kegan Edwards is batting around .400, and leadoff hitter Jericho Carlson is a perfect example of the “scrappy” nature of this team when at the plate.
“He sees a lot of pitches,” Johnson said of Carlson. “I bet he’s had 20 at-bats this season where he’s seen 10 pitches or more. It exemplifies that fighting mentality we want.”
It also helps that Timberview has seen significant strides in its relatively young pitching staff. With Nick Gerhard the lone returning senior starter, others like juniors Dallas Rosales and Marcus Dandridge have progressed.
“We knew we’d get some good innings out of some kids, but they’ve had some very good outings,” Johnson said. “They’ve grown up faster than what I think we thought. We don’t have a dominant guy, but all three have done a really good job of keeping the ball down, pitching to bat contact and allowing us to play defense behind them, which is something that we try to pride ourselves in.”
This year’s team also takes pride in how it approaches things off the field and in the clubhouse.
“They are all real close. They don’t really have a clique mentality,” Johnson said. “Leadership-wise it’s just how they play the game. The seniors have a lot of energy and they go 100 miles per hour.”
Edwards has similar feelings about his teammates, insisting that past clubs have been less focused on team goals, like the playoffs, and more on individual performances. He also says this team isn’t intimidated by any foe it faces.
“One thing about our team, we aren’t afraid to compete,” Edwards said. “Whether it’s the Waxahachies or whoever, we feel like we can compete against anybody, and that’s what’s special about our team this year.”
And while the Wolves are firmly focused on the season at hand for the moment, Walker also recognizes there is a bigger picture to see.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position to make the playoffs. Our mindset right now is just finishing the job,” he said. “We’ve just got to finish the job and be the team that future Timberview teams can look up to.”