The Wildcats have made the playoffs eight consecutive years, the last seven seasons under head coach Jerrod Hammack.
Sulphur Springs (16-9) opens a best-of-three Class 4A Region II bi-district series at home, taking on the Bobcats (21-8) at 7 p.m. today at Eagle Stadium. Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Hallsville and the third game, if needed, will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Canton High School.
The teams met earlier in the season. They played in February in the Tyler Rose City Classic with Hallsville taking a 12-0 win.
“We have seen Hallsville this year and I was impressed with how well the hit the ball,” said Hammack. “They had just scored 15 runs in a game, then played us and scored 12. They were playing well and scoring a lot. Hallsville has a good program, they have good people.”
Top hitters for Hallsville include - Jacob Walker, .482, 19 RBIs, 19 stolen bases; Ronnie Gideon, .377, 4 home runs, 40 RBIs; Josh Warbington, .346, 4 home runs, 31 RBIs; J.C. Daily, .326, 13 RBIs.
Connor Reich has a 5-2 record on the mound with 86 strikeouts, he is also hitting .404 with 32 RBIs. Gavin Murrell is posting an 8-1 mark with 55 strikeouts; pitcher Coby Weaver is 4-1 with 45 strikeouts.
Hallsville is the runner-up from District 14-4A. The Bobcats have made the baseball playoffs four years in a row and eight of the last 10 years under head coach Scott Mitchell. Mitchell has a record of 255-126, the most coaching wins in the history of Hallsville baseball.
“Hallsville has some good pitchers,” Hammack said. “They throw in the low to mid 80s, we have seen right-handers like this before. They are good high school pitchers. Hallsville faced a lefty against Pine Tree and he was effective against them.”
The Wildcats feature two southpaws in Jordan Jackson and Kris Ford on the pitching staff.
“We will start Jordan against Hallsville today,” Hammack said. “I always think lefties are hard to hit. Mainly, because you don’t see them that often. We need a well-pitched game from Jordan. He threw well against Sherman and Mount Pleasant. He’s the kind of pitcher who can carry the team if we get a few runs. Our pitching is set as well as it has been for any series. We have up to six pitchers we could use if necessary.”
Jordan Jackson has a 5-3 record with a 1.55 earned run average. He has struck out 58 batters in 54.1 innings and walked 29.
Sulphur Springs is hitting .284 as a team entering the playoffs, scoring 5.4 runs a game.
Kris Ford leads the team with 31 hits and eight doubles, posting a .360 average with 16 RBIs. Justin Owens has a .397 average, tops on the team. The senior catcher has 12 RBIs and four doubles. Jenner Jackson leads the squad in RBIs with 23 from 25 hits, including six doubles and two homers. Jordan Jackson has a .338 average with 17 RBIs, six doubles, one triple. Freshman Larry Pryor has a .333 average with five RBIs, three doubles and a triple. Cabo Sanvig is hitting .311 with 14 RBIs.
The Wildcats have gone 2-2 in their last four games. Their last game was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Texas High.
“We know this is the playoffs and we have to step it up a notch,” Hammack said. “I am confident we can do that. This is a team that is capable of making a run in the playoffs. The games with Texas High are always big, those are like playoff games. I don’t foresee us having the jitters or being nervous. We have played in big games before against good teams. That is what we get from our tournament play.”
Hammack added, “This should be a good matchup with Hallsville. Each program is good, it is a playoff series between two quality teams. We feel good about opening at home. We hope to have a good crowd and play well.”
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