Coming To A Field Near You

Wildcats have one game against Kilgore to decide who advances in the playoffs

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 1, 2008 - When it comes to the playoffs, Sulphur Springs Wildcats head basebalal coach Jerrod Hammack is a believer in a best-of-three series.

On Friday, the Wildcats will pass on a series and play a one-game, winner-take-all showdown against the Kilgore Bulldogs to decide who advances to the area round of the Class 4A playoffs next week.

With both schools having prom on Saturday, Kilgore coach Jeff Blackstone laid down an offer to Hammack with the stipulation being that the game would be played in Sulphur Springs and the Wildcats would be designated as the home team.

Hammack said the offer was one he could not pass up Saturday morning.

"I am a two-out-of-three guy and I think we have the better pitching staff. I knew he wanted a one-gamer and we were going to flip for it for sure, because he wasn't going to take two-out-of-three," Hammack said. "So the offer was something that was too good of an idea to pass up since I knew we both had prom and I did not want to face a Game 3 late on Saturday with the prom in the back of their minds."

The Wildcats (14-10) will be led on the mound by senior ace Brittan Diamond, who comes into the game with a 5-3 record. He last pitched against the Texas High Tigers April 22.

"Brittan will be ready to throw against Kilgore and their hitters are fair with nobody really outstanding," Hammack said. "The game that we scouted there was nothing outstanding about this team and if we play the way we canm then we like our chances."

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will likely counter with junior southpaw Danny Sharpe - who has thrown about 200 pitches in the past week - as they won their final two games to secure the No. 3 seed in District 12-4A.

"He (Sharpe) throws just about every game for them and I think his arm has taken some wear and tear over the course of the season," the coach said. "He threw five innings against Henderson when we scouted them and then he threw 114 pitches against Marshall to win that game.

"He is a typical left hander and he tries to keep the ball away from you with a little bit of a curveball mixed in. If we are going to try and pull him, then we are going to be in trouble."

Hammack said the Wildcats have worked this week on opposite-field hitting and will work with senior catcher Josh Dunn in dealing with Kilgore's speed on the basepaths.

"We have worked all week on driving the ball to right center and they have got some good team speed," he said. "If they get on base, we know they will try and steal, so they will get to see how good our catcher is. They will then know they can not run freely on the bases, and Brittan does a good job of slide stepping so he can keep them close."

Hammack said the only concern he has comes from the team's batting in the past couple of games. He hopes the players will use this week to find their pitches.

"I think the thing with that is what we have talked about all year which isvery simple, yet very complicated to do," the coach said. "You don't have much time to determine from the release of a pitch what you are going to do with it. When we are going well, we are zone hitting and finding our pitch, and that is when we are rolling. We need to take advantage of our pitches, and we are going to have to work hard on that in order to win."

The winner of the Wildcats-Kilgore game will face the Mesquite Poteet Pirates in the area round next week. Mesquite Poteet (24-3) is ranked No. 2 in the state by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association.

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