The Harker Heights baseball season certainly has had its peaks and valleys this year.
There was a swoon in the first half of district play that saw the Knights drop from a game out of first to barely in fourth.
Then there was the wave of momentum they’re currently riding after winning six consecutive games to finish the regular season.
But heading into the playoffs, the Knights know they can’t afford to vacillate between the two against Midlothian.
The Knights take on the Panthers in Game 2 of a best-of-three series at 7 tonight at Waco ISD Sports Complex and will look to maintain that high level of play against the District 7-5A runner-ups.
“If you’re a competitor, you want to see how you compete against the other guys,” Heights head coach Glenn Cunningham said. “And we’re going to see an outstanding team out of Midlothian.”
The result of Game 1 of the series was unknown at press time. But heading into the series, Cunningham praised Midlothian profusely in describing what his team was up against.
The question wasn’t what the Panthers’ strengths were but rather: What wasn’t a strength?
“They’re a real solid baseball team,” Cunningham said. “They hit the ball well. They’re big kids. They’re strong. They’re solid on defense. They’re well-coached.”
Cunningham admitted Midlothian represented as stiff a challenge as his team has seen this season.
Senior pitcher and shortstop Caleb Dean said coaches compared Midlothian to Belton and Waco Midway, the 8-5A champions and runner-ups, respectively.
But the Knights have stared down similar challenges before, even beating Midway in the final week of the season, and were eager to take on Midlothian heading into the series.
Cunningham said small-ball will be crucial for Heights, but that the fundamentally sound Panthers won’t make it easy.
“They have an outstanding catcher behind the plate,” Cunningham said. “So, if we run, we’ll have to run protected. Our execution will be the key.”
Dean said the Knights are confident knowing they’ve executed at a high level for the past six games.
And Cunningham stressed that his team doesn’t have to be perfect to advance past the first round, just good enough to topple the Panthers.
“We know you make mistakes here and there, but we just can’t give them a lot of opportunities with walks and then kick the ball around a little bit or something like that,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got to make them earn what they get.”
“And I think if we do that we’ve got a chance to be in the game.”