The Carroll softball team faces a week where nothing short of perfection is expected. Because of the inclement weather, the Lady Dragons could not finish the regular season last week.
They were scheduled to play L.D. Bell on Monday. If the weather wiped that out, the game likely would be played on Tuesday, the last day for the district standings to be certified with the University Interscholastic League.
Either way, Carroll (16-5, 11-0 in District 7-6A) was going for a perfect district season (girls basketball also accomplished that) before the playoffs begin Friday against Cedar Hill.
“The outright championship is something where I was happy for the kids and excited for the program,” head coach Tim Stuewe said. “The things that we have been doing have been a work in progress. We’re excited to get to that point. We wanted to finish it out right and keep the momentum. I don’t want to us to change our approach at all.”
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But a perfect week means no margin for error in the Class 6A Region I bi-district one-game playoff with Cedar Hill at Cedar Hill. The Lady Longhorns won the flip to play a one-game playoff (Carroll wanted a best two-out-of-three) and also won the flip for a home game against a neutral setting. Cedar Hill is the No. 4 seed in District 8-6A. The winner advances to the area round to meet the winner of Keller Timber Creek vs. Lewisville.
“If I was in their position, I would do the same thing,” Stuewe said of the one-game playoff. “But that’s what we have to deal with, and we’ll see what we can do. Once we have a full scouting report, we’ll figure out how we want to approach it.”
Part of that plan will be which pitcher Stuewe wants to start. Senior Jessica Tunink and junior Cami Green have been equal in terms of their productivity. Each pitched in games last week against Colleyville Heritage and Haltom. Without question, both could be used against the Lady Longhorns.
Well, make that two challenges. Carroll enjoyed most of its run through the rest of District 7-6A with eight run-ruled victories. However, the Lady Dragons had to go to the bottom of the seventh to pull out their 4-3 victory against Colleyville Heritage on April 20. They won the game on a walk-off passed ball.
In their 15-9 victory over Haltom on April 21, the Lady Dragons had to rally from an early deficit before pulling away in the late innings. But then both Colleyville Heritage and Haltom had something at stake. The two teams were fighting it out for a playoff berth.
Still, a coach likes to see how his players will respond mentally when faced with adversity. Last week may have been a small sample. However, the timing could not have been better as the postseason approaches.
“Playing and winning close games will start to become more and more important,” Stuewe said. “They didn’t get flustered. They just kept telling each other to stay with the plan and that they would be good.
“Really, this group has done a great job of not letting the moment get to them. They stay within themselves. The key for us [against Cedar Hill] is getting off to a quick start.”
Abigail Stuart has five home runs, a freshman record. She went 4-for-5 with two home runs last week against Haltom. She hits either in the No. 3 or No. 5 spot in the order.