Varsity baseball team prepares for playoffs
The baseball team will play its first playoff game against Keller on May 3 as district champions. After securing their final win against Plano West on April 27, their 19-6-3 record has proven best in District 8-5A. The upcoming game will be a series of three; therefore, the team that wins two games will advance to the next round and the other will be eliminated.
Each district takes its top four teams to playoffs. Alongside Plano will be Flower Mound, Plano East and Flower Mound Marcus. They will play against teams from districts all over the region. However, left-handed pitcher senior Hunter Raley said that this district is particularly competitive.
“I could honestly say that there was not a single team in our district that did not pose a threat,” Raley said. “We’re in one of the toughest districts in the state, probably the toughest district in the state for 5A baseball. So every single team in our district could beat another team. There is not one that is more of a threat to anyone.”
Coming out at the top of one of the best districts, coach Rick Robertson is confident that his team is prepared to face any of their competition.
“I think we’re as good as anyone we’ll play,” Robertson said. “It’s just going out and being ready to play and executing it and we’ll get there. It’s an inexact science. You get out there and you do your best and hopefully you get a win.”
To prepare for their first playoff game, the team is continuing their fundamental running, hitting and pitching drills. Senior Connor Reed, the team’s other left-handed pitcher, is getting his arm in good shape. He said that though the practices haven’t changed, the team is working out more intensely now.
“Coach Robs is staying on us a little more than usual,” Reed said. “He’s making sure we don’t get too relaxed or comfortable. He yells at us a little more, doesn’t let us fool around or anything. It’s all business. It can get a little annoying, but we know it’s for our own good.”
Robertson said that his stricter attitude is all part of his strategy to help the team win at playoffs.
“My job is to try to have them focused and get them ready to play each game—putting pressure on them in practice,” Robertson said. “Then, when the opportunity comes during a game, they will have been under those pressures.”
According to Raley, the team has one shortfall that they should work to fix before their first playoff game.
“You can always get better at hitting and pitching and just fielding in general, but we need to play more as a team,” Raley said. “We’re getting better at this, but for a lot of the season we played as a bunch of individuals playing for themselves.”
Both Raley and Reed were on the varsity team last year and advanced to the regional semi-final round—the farthest the team has made it in 12 years. This year, they’re looking to beat that record.
“It feels like we have something to prove to ourselves,” Raley said. “We have to prove that we’re better than last year’s team and that we can make it further. It’s just a constant struggle to be better than you were. Just like any good team, you try to be the best that you can be.”
What makes this year’s advancement different from last year’s to Reed, though, is the fact that it’s his last shot.
“It’s extra time left with my friends before I have to go to college,” Reed said. “The camaraderie of baseball is awesome. We spend all of our free time together. It’s like a family, pretty much. It’s like one last go at it before we all leave, so it’s special to all of us.”
According to Robertson, what will set this team apart in the playoffs is the unique tradition of baseball that the school has.
“I was at my other school for 18 years, and we developed our tradition while I was there,” Robertson said. “Here, there is such a rich tradition of baseball. There’s not a trophy case showing all of the things that they’ve done, but I know what they’ve done because I played against them all those years. This school has a rich tradition of winning in every aspect—whether it’s athletics or academics. I think that’s pretty special.”
In order to uphold that tradition, the District 8-5A champions are looking to make it far this year.
“It’s all about building a legacy and becoming a legend to the high school,” Raley said. “The further we make it in the playoffs, the more legendary our team becomes. If we make it to state, then we’ll be known forever.”