It played out exactly as Colleyville Heritage baseball coach Alan McDougal thought it would. When it comes to the playoffs, seeds should be ignored. Match-ups are the key.
So Colleyville Heritage’s Class 5A Region I bi-district playoff series with Hebron came down to who could take advantage of limited opportunities. Hebron did. The Hawks scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth of Game 3 Saturday and made them stand up.
Hebron advanced by winning the deciding game, 2-1. Colleyville Heritage’s season ended at 20-14. The evenness of this series played out perfectly. Hebron won Game 1, 6-2. Colleyville Heritage won Game 2, 2-1.
“I thought we were going to have this kind of series, and we did,” McDougal said. “It really was going to come down to who could get the clutch hits to score runs. That’s exactly what happened. We just came up a little short.”
The beauty and cruelty of baseball is that a game can be decided without a ball ever leaving the infield. That nearly happened for the Hawks in their half of the fifth inning of Game 3.
They used two walks, followed by a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third. A passed ball scored the tying run. A flare single delivered the series winner.
The Panthers could not muster an answer as they went 1-2-3 in the sixth and 1-2-3 in the seventh. There were a couple of opportunities earlier in the game. Colleyville Heritage had runners at first and second with less than two outs. But the lineup could not find that big hit to extend the lead.
With a team that endured so much roster turnover from the 2013 Region I quarter-finalist edition, questions surrounded what the 2014 squad would do. So the fact that this group found a way to win 12 consecutive games, clinch a playoff berth for the eighth consecutive season and win its fourth district championship in McDougal’s eight seasons speaks to the consistency and the resolve players have to maintain the tradition.
“My message to them was this was a team with good seniors and they helped make this team what it was and something they can look back on,” McDougal said. “This was a fun team to coach. But what I hoped we did is get them prepared for the next chapter in their lives.”
Freshman Alex Scherff is expected to be one of the mainstays to the 2015 pitching staff. He was brilliant in Game 2 in a 2-1 Colleyville Heritage victory to force the third game. He pitched seven strong innings.
“He was outstanding,” McDougal said. “His command was really good and he gave us a chance to win. We were able to scratch out some runs to do it.”
Scherff’s expected return should be complemented by Mitch Stark. Stark also pitched in the series.
Their presence will be important because the Panthers will be moving into a very strong baseball district in 2015-2016 with Carroll and Coppell.
“It’s going to be one of the fiercest districts that you’ll find in the state,” McDougal said. “There will be no layups. Tuesdays and Fridays should be fun.”