The Carroll baseball team used great pitching and strong defense to defeat Midlothian in the bi-district round of the playoffs last week and now prepares for another heavy hitter.
The Dragons will square off with Lewisville Hebron with Game 1 scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Game 2 will be at the same time on Friday, and if necessary, Game 3 would be at noon on Saturday. All games will be played at Plano West.
Coach Larry Hughes said that his team will definitely have its work cut out for it.
“They are always good,” Hughes said. “They are probably going to be a little bit better-hitting line up than what Midlothian has, and they have enough good pitching where it's going to be another tight series. It will be tough next as well, because the winner of our game gets the winner of Coppell and Flower Mound Marcus, so it won't be easy. It's never easy, and that's why it is so hard to go all the way.”
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Carroll defeated Midlothian two games to one in its bi-district series last weekend, and Hughes said that the Panthers were certainly not a pushover.
“We had to battle the weather, and had to continue the game from the first night,” Hughes said. “We only played three and a half innings that first night. [Matt] Canterino pitched four shutout innings, and we were up 2-0. Kevin Cramer came in the next day to finish up the game with three shutout innings, so we ended up winning the game 2-0. Then, we followed that game with our regularly scheduled game ... and they scored three runs late and were able to win.
“In Game 3, Canterino was able to come back from Game 1 and gave us about six strong innings, and we swung the bat well in that game. They brought their ace back, too, and we hit him very well. He lasted maybe four outs.”
Hughes said heading into the Midlothian game that he was a bit concerned about the Panthers’ pitching, and said that they were good in that respect.
“When they had fresh arms, the first time through before the rain delays hit, they were really tough,” Hughes said. “We did get a couple of timely hits, though, and scored some runs. But when they brought their guys back the next day, they weren't quite as sharp, and we hit them pretty good.”
Hughes said that he is pleased with the effort he is getting from his team with the playoffs underway.
“I'm really happy, because we really lost on a bad note in that Game 2,” Hughes said. “It was a late-night game, we played a good game, and we had one bad inning. I told the guys that we played good throughout the game and had one bad inning, which can happen to anybody. I told them, ‘Let's come back to tomorrow and not have any bad innings,’ and that's what they did. That's the sign of a strong team.”