The third season begins tonight for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.
It won’t be at Eagle Stadium in Sulphur Springs as originally planned.
Rainfall overnight and Thursday morning made the Sulphur Springs field too wet for the game. So the contest has been moved to Henderson.
After all the UIL rulings, executive committee meetings, not to mention games postponed by rain, it seems like it took a long while just to play.
Two days ago Sulphur Springs was preparing to play Whitehouse. But the state UIL committee overturned a district ruling and Hallsville is back in the playoffs. That causes a trickle down effect and the Wildcats went from being the third place team to the fourth place team in 13-4A.
Sulphur Springs will take on Henderson in a best-of-three game Class 4A bi-district baseball playoff series. Game 1 is today at 7 p.m. at Henderson; Game 2 is Friday at Sulphur Springs at 7 p.m.; Game 3, if needed will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Sulphur Springs, possibly Gilmer if the SS field is wet.
The teams from 13-4A matchup with 14-4A in the first round of the playoffs.
District 13-4A champ Texas High plays No. 4 seed Lindale; No. 2 seed Hallsville plays Kilgore; No. 3 Marshall meets Whitehouse and No. 4 Sulphur Springs plays No. 1 Henderson.
How Henderson got to be 20-5-1 and the No. 1 seed is an impressive story. The Lions had to beat Whitehouse on back-to-back dates in two different locations to get the top slot in 14-4A.
“I think Henderson has a better pitching staff than Whitehouse,” Sulphur Springs head baseball coach Jerrod Hammack said. “I think if we can get past them it may shake out better for us in the long run. At least you won’t be looking down the road at playing Mesquite Poteet or Waxahachie. We should have an easier path going in as a No. 4 seed. But right now we are concerned with beating Henderson. We have all the respect in the world for their program.”
Sulphur Springs is entering the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, the fourth in a row under Hammack.
“We have some good experience on the team. We have players like Jace Jackson, Ben Barrows, Mason Rawson, Cedric Finney and Shane McQueen who been here before,” Hammack said. “We have a good group of guys.”
Hammack said the key to his team doing well was competing against Henderson.
“We did not finish the season very strong. We did hit the ball against Hallsville, but we need to pick up the pace a little heading into the playoffs,” Hammack said. “This first game of the playoffs is very important. We’d like to win it obviously.”
The lineup will remain the same for the Wildcats. Shane McQueen will be in centerfield after two days competing in the regional track meet. Junior hurler Colby Suggs will be the probable pitcher in the playoff opener; Jake Dougan is also expected to pitch the second game of the series.
“I like our chance,” Hammack said. “Henderson has two good pitchers, both throw in the 80s. But we have seen good pitchers in this district. We really hit fastball pitchers better than ones who throw the ball slower, line into the 70s. We should swing the bats well. We’re hitting .284 as a team. We were over .300 my first three years here. But have done the things right to make the playoffs.”
The coach continued, “Hitting involves a lot of factors. You have to be confident, you also have to pick the right pitch to swing at and you must be confident. We hit to our strengths and try to be selective. We have been working on fundamentals, we just want to compete at a high level. I think we will rise to the occasion. ”
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