FRANKLIN — Despite entering Saturday just 21 outs from the end of its season, the Salado Eagles never wondered if their quest to return to state was going to end woefully short this past weekend.
“Not at all,” pitcher Drew Van Winkle said. “The fight that our team has is unmatched.”
Salado proved that Saturday by not just rallying to win the series after losing Game 1 on Friday but taking the next two games against Teague by mercy rule.
Now, the Eagles move on to the regional quarterfinals where they’ll face Clifton, a team that also won two games Saturday to advance to the next round.
One reason the Eagles were confident they’d be able to bounce back Saturday was that they were convinced their 10-error performance Friday wasn’t indicative of the team they believe themselves to be.
A second reason was that Saturday wasn’t the first time the veteran Eagles have had their backs against the wall.
“We’ve been in this situation before against Centerville and battled back,” pitcher Britton Hawes said. “And once we started scoring, you just see the other team, their whole momentum started coming down. They’re a good ball club, so can’t take anything away from them.”
Hawes got Salado started in Game 2 by holding Teague to one hit in five shutout innings.
After Van Winkle allowed just one run
in four innings in Game 3, Hawes closed the Lions out with two shutout innings to propel Salado to the next round.
Now, after surviving one of its worst performances of the season this past weekend, Salado is determined to stay level-headed as they prepare to face Clifton.
“(We) can’t take any different than this round. It’s another round, another team,” Hawes said. “It gives us momentum, but we can’t go in there big-headed.
“We don’t want to underestimate anybody,” Hawes said.
But head coach Chad Krempin admitted that it’d be nice to see his team build off its big win against Teague this past weekend as the playoff road toughens.
“I really haven’t felt like we’ve played our best baseball all year until little spurts of it here lately,” Krempin said. “It’d be nice to just kind of get hot and play really, really well and maybe make a run at it.”