“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.” — Oscar Wilde, “A Woman of No Importance”
Caleb Dean described it as complacency, “settling” for what they already had.
It was the only way the Harker Heights junior shortstop could wrap his mind around the Knights’ 5-2 loss to a struggling Copperas Cove last Friday.
In between bookended losses to District 8-5A powers Belton and Waco Midway, the Knights (10-9, 4-3 8-5A) rolled through a four-game district win streak, dishing out losses to Ellison, Killeen, Shoemaker and Temple. Then came what looked like another “easy win” against the Bulldawgs, losers of 15 straight entering last week.
But, in reality, the Cove loss was so much more than complicity to the humdrum nature of the District 8-5A slate. It was an acceptance by the Knights players to simply get by, to make the playoffs by winning games they should win and losing games they were expected to lose in the first place.
Only the Bulldawgs (5-16, 2-5) had other ideas. And if third-place Harker Heights hopes to do more than simply make the postseason, it better start thinking differently too. Or else it may just find itself on the outside looking in come playoffs.
The second round of 8-5A play starts this week and there isn’t much that separates the contenders from the pretenders.
Entering Thursday’s games, Belton (16-10-1, 6-1) and Waco Midway (16-10, 6-1) seem to have a grip on the top of the standings, dueling one another for the district title, as expected.
But both have suffered losses, Belton to Midway, giving the Panthers the head-to-head tie breaker, while those same Panthers suffered a somewhat ugly 5-4, eight-inning loss to Shoemaker two weeks ago.
Heights is just a game up on both Shoemaker and Ellison (5-16, 3-4), and can’t afford any more surprises.
The Knights have shown an ability to dominate, shutting out the Grey Wolves 4-0 behind a one-hitter from senior Kyle Randall, while also having epic collapses, such as a 14-walk performance in a 6-1 district-opening loss to Belton with Randall on the mound.
Heights, which held Belton to a 1-1 tie until surrendering nine free passes between the fifth and sixth innings to the tune of five runs, had it’s opportunity for redemption Thursday at Tiger Field.
But while a win over the Tigers would be nice, it’s not necessary, not so long as Heights can beat all the teams behind them in the standings. Of course, that doesn’t give the Knights any leeway for one or two upsets that are sure to come.
And if Heights wants to avoid being on the wrong end of one of those, there is little room for complacency.