Author: Daniel Youngblood

BCP Podcast No. 47: Evan, Daniel dive deep into softball, baseball playoffs

With the baseball and softball playoffs nearing their end and six Big Country teams remaining between the two sports, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood decided to forego a guest for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to dive deep into the remaining baseball and softball series.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel look back at last week’s action and say goodbye to the area baseball and softball teams we lost.

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Previewing the remaining softball, baseball series

The high school softball season is down to its final two weeks, baseball season is down to its last three, and the Big Country contingent for both sports is dwindling.

In softball, we’re down to Brock, which will take on Bushland for the Region I-3A crown this weekend, while five area baseball teams remain with a shot to advance to state.

In Class 3A, it’s Wall, Breckenridge and Brock. In Class 2A, it’s Hawley and Albany.

With just six teams and five series remaining to divide our attention across, it’s time to get out the magnifying glass and take a closer look at what each of those teams is facing this week. We hope you enjoy this look at the Big Country playoff schedule.

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FEATURE: Albany’s run to region semis continues trend of baseball success for Lions

With the run of success the Albany baseball team has had the past five years, it should surprise no one that the Lions are back in the region semifinals.

Coach David Fairchild’s team has advanced to at least the third round of the playoffs every year since 2015, with a trip to the Region I-2A championship game in 2016 and the program’s first state tournament appearance in 2017.

With four players on their roster who played on that state team, the Lions have a small nucleus of upperclassmen who know what that experience is like. And those guys have a whole bunch of teammates who are eager to find out themselves.

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FEATURE: Aggressive Hawley lineup dangerous from top to bottom

The Hawley baseball team’s offensive approach isn’t a particularly novel one. The Bearcats subscribe to the same “Get on base, move the runner around, repeat” process that most other successful lineups do.

But what is unique about this Hawley squad is the efficiency with which it does those things and the lengths it can — and will — go to to get them done.

Coach Jamie Seago is blessed with a lineup that goes nine deep with players who can get a hit when needed, will lay down a bunt if asked to and are always looking to take an extra base once they get on. And it’s the combination of those things that makes the Bearcat lineup one of the toughest in all of Class 2A to pitch through.

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GAME STORY: Hawley rebounds from Game 1 loss to eliminate Stamford

HERMLEIGH — After Friday’s 6-5 loss to district rival Stamford, Hawley coach Jamie Seago said he hoped the four-run, seventh-inning rally that pulled his team within a run would carry over into the second day of the Bearcats’ Region I-2A quarterfinal series with the Bulldogs.

That would certainly seem to have been the case.

Hawley, which was held to one run over the first six innings in Game 1, pounded out 31 hits over two games Saturday, rebounding from Friday’s loss with an 8-4 win in Game 2 and a 20-7 victory in the deciding third game.

The wins improved Seago’s Bearcats to 22-11-1 on the year and pushed them into the I-2A semis, where they’ll face 21-3 New Deal next week. 

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GAME STORY: Borden County ends Ira’s season with hard-fought 2-1 win

HERMLEIGH — Ira’s Karson Valentine and Borden County’s Zane Allen matched zeroes for most of the evening Friday in a one-game Region I-1A semifinal playoff at Hermleigh’s Cardinal Field. But the Coyotes got to Valentine for two runs in the first and made that stand up in a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

Valentine deftly pitched out of trouble for most of the game, but three walks and a hit batter led to Borden County’s big first inning, and that was all the support needed for Allen, who surrendered one unearned run over seven innings on two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

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GAME STORY: Surging Stamford holds on for 6-5 win over district rival Hawley in Game 1

HERMLEIGH — After dropping their two district matchups against Hawley by a combined margin of 19-4, the Stamford Bulldogs struck first blood in their Region I-2A quarterfinal series against the Bearcats on Friday. Coach Kevin Bartley’s team raced out to a 6-1 lead after two innings and held off a late rally to take Game 1 of the best-of-three affair 6-5 and stretch its playoff-long win streak to five games.

Things got dicey in the seventh for the Bulldogs, who saw back-to-back errors extend the game after Garrett Hewitt had slapped a one-out infield single for Hawley. But after getting a pop up for the second out and allowing a two-run single to Kolter Willeford and RBI walk to Colton Marshall, reliever Josh Mueller got Dylan Frazier to ground out to  end the game with the tying run at third and winning run at second.

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GAME STORY: The Colony rides two-out magic to Game 1 win over Wylie

GRAFORD — No. 6 Lewisville The Colony capitalized on its scoring chances Thursday and Wylie couldn’t. In the end, that was the difference in a 7-1 victory for the Lady Cougars in Game 1 of a best-of-three Region I-5A semifinal softball series.

The Colony (37-3) scored all seven of its runs with two outs, including four unearned runs in the second inning, while Wylie came up empty on a bases-loaded, no-outs situation with a chance to get back into the game in the fifth.

That proved to be the Lady Bulldogs’ best opportunity the rest of the way as The Colony pitcher Karly Charles roped a two-run home run in the bottom of that same inning to push a five-run lead to seven runs and effectively put the game away.

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FEATURE: Wylie softball embracing underdog role in I-5A semifinal series against The Colony

The Wylie Lady Bulldogs are no strangers to the underdog role. They’ve been playing it most of this season.

That was true during District 4-5A play, which saw Wylie rebound from a 13-3 loss at Aledo to win its next seven league games.

And it was true in each of the Lady Bulldogs’ first three playoff series — wins over quality teams from Canyon Randall (18-16), El Paso Eastwood (25-8-1) and Lubbock Coronado (28-11).

So if you think coach Heather Collier’s team will be overwhelmed or intimidated by a Region I-5A semifinal matchup with No. 6 Lewisville The Colony (36-3), you can think again. The Lady Bulldogs have a healthy respect for the Lady Cougars and all they’ve accomplished this year, but they’ve accomplished too much themselves to fear anyone.

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BCP Podcast No. 46: Evan, Daniel catch up with Gorman softball coach Guthery

Gorman softball coach Nick Guthery has led the Lady Panthers to a 26-0 record this season and has his team one win away from its first state tournament appearance in school history.

Earlier this week, Guthery took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about the run his team is on, his Region II-1A opponent, Dodd City, and the program he’s built for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Podcast.

Also on this week’s episode, Evan and Daniel recap last week’s baseball and softball playoff action and take a look forward to this weekend’s top matchups.

SERIES RECAP: Bel Air sweeps Wylie, ends Bulldogs’ season in area round

FORT STOCKTON — El Paso Bel Air ended the Wylie baseball season Saturday, following Friday’s 7-3 win with a 4-3 walk-off victory to sweep the Region I-5A area-round series between the two clubs.

After the Bulldogs had extended the game with a game-tying solo home run by Kanon Doby in the top of the seventh, the Highlanders mounted a game-winning rally in the bottom, getting a one-out triple from Gabriel Torres, who came home shortly after on a wild pitch.

That capped a tough series for Wylie in which the Bulldogs never led.

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GAME STORY: Wylie softball rallies past Coronado, advances to I-5A semis

HERMLEIGH — Just as they had in their first two playoff series, the Wylie Lady Bulldogs found themselves down in the seventh inning of Game 2 on Saturday against Lubbock Coronado.

And just as they had in their two previous series, the Lady Bulldogs dug deep and found a way.

Down to its final three outs after dropping Game 1 of the Region I-5A quarterfinal series on Friday, coach Heather Collier’s team rallied for six runs to turn a 4-2 deficit into an 8-4 victory in Game 2 and followed that with a 10-7 win in the deciding third game to beat Coronado two games to one and advance to the region semifinals next week.

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GAME STORY: Coronado catches fire late to snap Wylie’s 11-game win streak

HERMLEIGH — Kaylee Philipp and Bailey Buck sparked a two-run rally to pull Wylie even with Lubbock Coronado after five innings Friday, but the Lady Mustangs erupted for five runs in the seventh to take a 7-2 win over the Lady Bulldogs in Game 1 of a best-of-three Region I-5A quarterfinal series.

Starting pitcher Jaci-Mia Rivera led off the top of the seventh with a double and came around to score on Riley Flores’ inside-the-park home run to make the score 4-2. Bianca Raney added an RBI single later in the inning to push Coronado’s lead to three runs, before Natalie Gomez landed the final blow in the form of a two-run double.

The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for Wylie, which fell to 17-15 overall.

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FEATURE: Seniors providing strong, steady leadership for young Bulldog squad

With eight sophomores and and two freshmen on its roster, many of whom have been pressed into playing time in prominent roles, the Wylie baseball team was always destined to experience some growing pains in 2019.

That’s the nature of the beast when you have a pitching staff comprised primarily of underclassmen and have a third of your lineup on any given day filled by freshmen or sophomores.

And yet, the Bulldogs entered the playoffs as District 4-5A’s No. 1 seed and brought a 17-8 overall record into this weekend’s Region I-5A area-round series with El Paso Bel Air.

That level of success, while surprising to some perhaps, hasn’t shocked Wylie coach Clay Martin. That’s because as young as his team is, it’s been blessed with a core of seniors that have provided the steady production and leadership necessary to weather any storms that have come.

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FEATURE: Confidence key to Lady Bulldogs’ run, continued playoff success

If you were to ask Wylie softball coach Heather Collier and her players what has been the biggest driving force behind the Lady Bulldogs’ current 11-game winning streak, you’d hear one word pop up more than any other: Confidence.

The biggest difference between the team that started the season 3-10 and the one preparing for this weekend’s Region I-5A quarterfinal series against Lubbock Coronado isn’t physical, the Lady Bulldogs will tell you. It’s mental.

Wylie, which is now 17-14, has a belief and mental toughness now it simply didn’t possess early in the season. And the improved results are a direct result of that fact.

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GAME STORY: No. 1 Gorman scores 12 first-inning runs in 29-0 rout of Lipan

The top-ranked Gorman softball team eliminated all suspense early in Thursday’s Region II-1A semifinal matchup with Lipan, scoring 12 first-inning runs on its way to a 29-0 rout in the one-game playoff at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field.

The unbeaten Lady Panthers pounded out 24 hits and took advantage of 15 Lipan errors in cruising to their 26th victory of the season and into the regional championship game, where they’ll face the winner of Friday’s semifinal between No. 10 Dodd City and Ector.

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BCP Podcast No. 45: Evan, Daniel talk baseball with Clyde coach Rowley

Clyde baseball coach Colby Rowley has consistently fielded a strong product during his nine years coaching for his alma mater, and things are no different this season. His Bulldogs are currently 24-6 and slated to take on Bowie this weekend in the area round of the Class 3A playoffs.

Earlier this week, Rowley took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, his time at Clyde and more for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also on this week’s episode, Evan and Daniel recap last week’s baseball and softball playoff action and forecast this week’s slate of games.

GAME STORY: Wylie walks off in Game 3 to cap thrilling series against Lubbock Cooper

After playing a one-run game in Friday’s series opener in Lubbock, the Wylie and Lubbock Cooper baseball teams needed 15 innings Saturday to decide which of the two teams would advance to next week’s area round.

And in a fashion befitting what was a thrilling series from start to finish, that determination wasn’t made until the final pitch.

Wylie, an 8-7 winner on Friday, bounced back from a 3-1 loss in Game 2 on Saturday to claim a 5-4 walk-off win in the deciding third game and extend its season at least one more week.

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GAME STORY: Wylie holds off Lubbock Cooper for 8-7 win in Game 1

LUBBOCK — A couple of big innings was all it took for the Wylie baseball team to score a playoff-opening win over Lubbock Cooper on Friday in a game that saw its start delayed three hours by lightning.

The Bulldogs plated three runs in the first inning and answered a four-run Cooper fourth with five in the sixth before holding off a late Pirate rally for a gutsy 8-7 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-three bi-district series.

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GAME STORY: Washingtons lead AHS past Odessa High in 10-inning thriller

LUBBOCK — After outscoring Arlington High 41-0 over two games in its bi-district series, the No. 3 Abilene High softball team got a much stiffer challenge from Odessa High in Friday’s area-round opener at Lubbock Cooper.

But as has been the case so often this season, the Lady Eagles rose to the occasion when needed.

Hardin-Simmons University-bound senior Kaylen Washington pitched out of jam after jam, and junior phenom Alyssa Washington wowed the crowd with her glove, arm and bat as coach Jim Reese’s team outlasted the Lady Bronchos for a 5-4 win in 10 heart-pounding innings.

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GAME RECAP: Buck does it again, blasts walk-off slam to lift Wylie to another sweep

PECOS — Junior pitcher/first baseman Bailey Buck blasted a series-clinching walk-off home run for the second time in as many weeks Thursday, lifting the the Wylie Lady Bulldogs to a sweep of El Paso Eastwood and into the Region I-5A quarterfinals.

Buck, who hit a three-run shot to push Wylie past Canyon Randall in the bi-district round on Saturday, smashed a grand slam to center to fuel the Lady Bulldogs to a 7-5 win in Thursday’s second game. That came after coach Heather Collier’s team scored a 14-5 victory in Game 1 and pushed its winning streak to 11 games.

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