By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
After finishing a second consecutive season with a district record of 11-3 and a second place finish in District 10-5A, McKinney Boyd (23-7) will face Lake Highlands in a best-of-three UIL bi-district round baseball series beginning Thursday night at McKinney Boyd.
Lake Highlands (18-11-1) finished third in District 9-5A with an 11-4 mark, one game behind Dallas W.T. White for second place. The Wildcats do not appear to have a definitive ace on the mound, but rather rely on a large staff in order to win ballgames in the field. The pitcher with the best mark is Reed Thomas, who has a 5-0 record and a 3.45 ERA. At the dish, Colton Bradley is Lake Highlands biggest bat as he leads the team with 33 RBIs and is hitting .368.
For the Broncos, Tyler Keegan and Cameron Sweeney are two pitchers who are likely to be the difference makers for Boyd this series. Keegan comes in with a 5-1 mark and a 1.47 ERA, while Sweeney is 4-2 with 2 saves and a 1.98 ERA. Offensively, the Broncos will need a big weekend from Evan Williams and Will Hollis, who both have 2 home runs and have 24 and 28 RBIs, respectively. If the Broncos play the kind of baseball they played throughout District 10-5A this spring, the series should not go past two games.
Thursday – Game One @ Boyd – vs. Lake Highlands @ 8 p.m.
Friday – Game Two @ Lake Highlands – vs. Lake Highlands @ 8 p.m.
Saturday – Game Three (if nec) @ Boyd – vs. Lake Highlands @ 12 p.m.
Clinching the fourth and final playoff spot on the final day of the regular season, McKinney North baseball has made this a season of the dramatic. However, North (18-8) will have an uphill battle to climb starting Thursday night as the Bulldogs face the champions of District 9-4A, Frisco Wakeland.
Wakeland (21-8) finished its district season with a perfect 14-0 record and secured the No. 1 spot early on into April. The Wolverines have several pitchers who can shut down lineups consistently, starting with Willie Schwanke. Schwanke comes into the weekend with a 7-0 record and a .95 ERA. Also, Hayden Nixon is 6-1 with 1 save and a .15 ERA, while Austin Gehle is 5-2 with a 4.08 ERA. At the plate, Schwanke is also the MVP with a .493 batting average, 3 home runs, and 34 RBIs. If the Bulldogs have to keep anyone off the bases it is Schwanke, who also tallied 11 stolen bags this season.
The Bulldogs will need to get good outings from their best pitchers, starting with Will Cooper, Will Shumate, and Aaron Rhodes. Cooper comes in with a 4-3 record and a 2.71 ERA, while Shumate is 3-2 with 2 saves and a 2.40 ERA, and Rhodes is 5-4 with a 2.49 ERA. At the dish, Shumate leads the team with 21 RBIs, while Anthony Herrera leads the team with a .456 batting average. North is going to have its hands full from the beginning with this veteran Wakeland lineup, but if the Bulldogs have proven anything in 2012, it is that you should never count them out regardless of how long the odds are.
Thursday – Game One @ Carrollton’s Kelly Field – vs. Frisco Wakeland @ 7:30 p.m.
Friday – Game Two @ Carrollton’s Kelly Field – vs. Wakeland @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday – Game Three (if nec) @ Carrollton’s Kelly Field – vs. Wakeland @ 7:30 p.m.