While senior Kole Ramage and sophomore Cutter Sippel make up a dynamic duo as starters for Southlake Carroll’s pitching staff, it’s perhaps the player behind the mask who charges the Dragons’ pitching battery.
Senior catcher Ross Cadena, a Wichita State signee, oversaw a sweep of Carroll’s baseball rival Arlington Martin last week, which earned the Dragons their first trip back to the UIL state tournament since 2008.
And while his bat is red hot at the right time, part of Cadena’s major contribution is calling the pitches for Ramage and Sippel.
Rarely does pitching coach Shad Whiteley intervene. Not only has that sped up the games, but it keeps opposition hitters in a constant guessing game.
“When you talk about our staff, you start with the kid behind the plate,” Whiteley said. “He gives them so much confidence.
“With a team like Martin, they’re scary with the 2-3-4 hitters. The biggest thing for a young guy like Cutter is that he has to go execute the plan. But if I call a pitch away and that’s not what Ross sees, he’s got our trust to make the changes.”
Ramage, an Arkansas signee, will likely take the mound when the Dragons square off against Deer Park at 4 p.m. Friday in a state semifinal at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
Should Carroll get the win Friday, it’s likely the underclassman Sippel (10-0) would start the title game. It was the same rotation for last week’s sweep of Martin.
“We expected a lot from Cutter even though he’s a sophomore,” Cadena said. “With Ramage, he’s a guy that’s been there, a guy that knows how to take care of business.”
Ramage (10-3, 1.41 ERA) could face Payton Sherlin (9-3) who’s lost two of his last three starts, including last week’s Game 1 to Fort Bend Travis.
“Kole Ramage is just a stud,” Carroll coach Larry Vucan said. “Doing what Cutter did against Martin, it was just an incredible performance.
“Doing that against one of the best hitting teams in the area, it’s just another example of if you don’t pitch backwards, with an articulated plan, they’re going to wear you out.”
DEER PARK TOP PITCHERS
UIL 6A State Baseball Championships
At Dell Diamond, Round Rock
Deer Park (33-8-1) vs. Southlake Carroll (32-10-1), 4 p.m. Friday
Round Rock (31-7) vs. San Antonio Reagan (30-8), 7 p.m. Friday
Final: 4 p.m. Saturday
Deer Park: Has played 13 postseason games, the most of the four teams remaining. It’s the program’s fourth appearance at the state tournament, the last coming in 1990. The Deer are averaging fewer than two runs per game allowed in the playoffs.
Southlake Carroll: The Dragons are making a seventh appearance at the state tournament, having won titles in 2002 and 1982. Carroll is riding a nine-game win streak. Pitching aces Kole Ramage and Cutter Sippel are a combined 20-3 this season.
Round Rock: It’s the Dragons’ third appearance at state, having won a title in 1997. Round Rock is 10-1 in the postseason, allowing a combined 15 runs in those 11 games.
San Antonio Reagan: The Rattlers’ only other appearance at state came in 2014. Reagan is also 10-1 in the playoffs, and has pitched shutouts in five of those games.