|Wildcats open playoffs this weekend|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
May 8, 2006 - The road to Austin begins Thursday evening for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.
After receiving a first-round bye, the Wildcats (21-7) will open the Class 4A area round playoff series against the Justin Northwest Texans (16-12). All games will be played at McKinney High School's Al Alford Field. First pitch for Game 1 will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, while Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. Friday, and Game 3, if necessary, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"They are going to be a quality opponent, and like I have said many times, I am not concerned with them," said SSHS first-year coach Jerrod Hammack. "If we play the way we are capable of, then the results will take care of themselves either way."
Hammack said the Game 1 starter will be senior Alex Aguilar - who is 6-2 with a 2.11 ERA and has struck out 71 batters to only nine walks in 43 2/3 innings.
"Certainly, you want to go with your ace in the first game because that sets the tone for the series. Alex will go in Game 1, and then we will go with Jake (Broumley) in Game 2," Hammack said. "In Game 3, it will be a game-time decision with Blake (Wells), Chance (Massey) or Jayden (Spencer) and it is good to know that you have that many guys that can go in Game 3.
"We are going to expect Alex to be strong and to throw his typical ball game, and we have to cut down on the mistakes," the coach said. "In the playoffs, you can't get away with some of the things that we did. If we can eliminate or cut down the mistakes we are going to be tough."
In the bi-district game between Justin Northwest and Dallas Spruce, Hammack said Northwest jumped out on Spruce early in the game and they know what to expect for the Texans pitchers.
"I am going to make some phone calls myself because it was a difficult game to get a lot on because they jumped out on an opponent 7-0 and they weren't a quality opponent," Hammack said.
"Coach (Josh) Strickland saw their ace for two innings and said that he was in the mid-to-high 80's and the kind of pitcher that we hit well. He also said that he didn't see a lot of speed or power and their hits were mostly singles."
Hammack said with the addition of junior Colby Mills back in the Wildcats' lineup, it will help the team in the outfield and with his patience at the plate.
"He has the second-highest average on the team, I believe, and even though he only played half of the district games he has the second-highest average in district," the coach said. "Ironically, he is a kid that only struck out twice all year. He is a great overall player, and he is a competitor."
Notes: The Wildcats will be the designated home team for Thursday and Saturday's game (if necessary). They will be in the third base dugout every game. Saturday night is Senior Prom at Sulphur Springs High School. ... The winner of the Sulphur Springs-Justin Northwest series will take on the winner of the Highland Park-Dallas Hillcrest series in the regional quarterfinals next weekend. ... The Wildcats are coming off a two-game losing streak as they dropped both of their warm-up games last week. The last time SSHS lost two straight, they won their final 12 games of the season.
Directions to McKinney High School Baseball Field - Take I-30 West to Greenville and take exit 96 and get on US 380. Stay on US 380 to McKinney, then turn left on North Tennessee Street, and take a right on White Avenue. Turn left on North Duvall Street and the baseball field will be on the right by the football stadium.