Northeast Tarrant

Dragons clinch playoff berth before final week’s games

The Carroll baseball team secured a playoff spot last week with its victories over Haltom and now takes aim at finishing out the year strong with a series this week against L.D. Bell.

Coach Larry Hughes said that the Blue Raiders have struggled this season more than was expected, but added that they are always a threat and said he expects his team to have its hands full.

“They are having a tough year,” Hughes said. “I am not sure why, because they have had some great seasons in recent years and they have always played us tough. I don't care if they were down or not, so I really expect a couple of close games.”

The Dragons defeated Haltom by scores of 10-0 in both games last week, and Hughes said that his team was pretty efficient in most areas of the game.

“We played good baseball,” Hughes said. “We had good pitching from our two main guys in (Matt) Canterino and (Kevin) Cramer, and we hit the ball well and made short games out of them, which was what we were certainly hoping to do. The victory yesterday clinched a playoff spot for us, so we'll either be third or fourth, depending on how this week goes.”

One of the areas where Hughes was really hoping to see improvement from his team as the second half of district started up was in the offensive side of the game.

The Carroll coach said he has certainly been seeing signs of that as the postseason approaches.

“I think that we are getting better and better as we go along,” Hughes said. “We've started swinging the bat a little better as the season goes along. We're more consistent and we're knocking in more runs, and when your pitching is not giving up much, that's a pretty good formula, and that's what we are trying to do.”

Hughes said that he has had a number of players performing well at this point and added that two really helped keep the team on track.

“Nic Motley had three hits and four RBI the other day against Haltom,” Hughes said. “That was a pretty good day for him. But in terms of (playing) consistently good are our top two starting pitchers, Matt Canterino and Kevin Cramer. Those two have been keeping us in every game.

“They have given us a chance to win and get back in the playoff run. They have done a fantastic job for us.”

Hughes said that even tough his team will enter the postseason as the third or fourth seed, it is certainly not lacking in confidence.

“I think it helps your confidence, but I don't think that our guys have ever thought that we were not capable or not a very good team,” Hughes said. “We started out district playing the toughest opponents, and we struggled, but our games were close and we bounced back well.”