Wildcats complete sweep of Rockwall, clinch spot in regional semifinals


Photo by Haley Samsel

Sophomore A.J. Liu bats in the second inning of the Wildcats’ win over Rockwall Fri. night.

Haley Samsel, Sports Columnist

Surrounded by a packed park, the varsity baseball team avenged last year’s playoff disappointment in a dominant performance against Rockwall on Fri., May 16, winning the game 6-0. Plano completed the sweep in the best-of-3 series and captured the regional quarterfinal title on Friday after winning 11-0 Thursday night at Rockwall.

After racking up a 17-0 scoring advantage on the same team that ended their playoff hopes in the same round last season, the Wildcats will move on to the regional semifinals for the second time in the last four years. Starting pitcher and Stanford commit junior Mitchell Hansen struggled early, allowing hits from the first three batters he faced.

“I had a rocky start, I’ll cop to that,” Hansen said. “But I’ve definitely had worse starts, so I knew I could get us out of the inning.”

Although Rockwall loaded the bases twice, the Wildcats managed to exit the top of the first inning unscathed. Plano’s offense exploded in the bottom of the inning, riding on RBI singles from seniors Ryan Robertson and Michael Davis to take a commanding lead over Rockwall, 3-0.

“We’ve been confident in our offense all season,” Robertson said. “These past two games, we’ve just played lights out. It’s the best team I’ve played on at Plano, and I’ve been on varsity since I was a freshman.”

The score remained stagnant until the fourth inning, when Rockwall’s miscommunication on a pop-up  allowed senior infielder Connor Brady to up the score to 4-0. The Yellowjackets never threatened to take the lead, with the Wildcats scoring a run in each of the following innings to seal the deal. Hansen was pulled out in the sixth due to control issues and replaced with senior reliever Jake Fraze. Fraze handled the final four outs with precision, picking off a Rockwall runner at first base with ease, a fitting end to a frustrating series for the Yellowjackets.

“Rockwall has a good team, but at this point, no team is unbeatable,” Robertson said. “We definitely wanted to take them out after last year, but we would’ve been just as focused if we were playing someone else.”

The Wildcats look to carry their momentum on to the next round of the playoffs, where they will play Klein Collins in the regional semifinals at a time and place to be determined. Klein Collins defeated Bowie 9-8 in the third and deciding game of their previous series on Sat., May 17.

“I can feel us starting to get hot,” Hansen said. “I almost don’t want to say that we could go deep in the playoffs because it might jinx us. But I know we can. I know we will.”