HARKER HEIGHTS — For the first time in weeks, Harker Heights isn’t fighting for its playoff life.
And while a stiff challenge still remains in drawing District 7-5A runner-up Midlothian as a first-round playoff opponent, a different vibe has taken over at Knights’ practices.
“It’s fun. It feels great,” senior Caleb Dean said of preparing for the playoffs. “Practice is a little different, but it’s better different. We’re just breaking things down and focusing on little things. It’s exciting.”
Heights will take on Midlothian in a best-of-three series that begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Waco ISD Sports Complex.
And while Heights enters the series having won six straight games, the Knights know Midlothian presents a different kind of challenge. The veteran Panthers are solid from top to bottom, and Heights head coach Glenn Cunningham said his team will have to continue to play at a high level to be successful against them.
“It’ll be a challenge for us to compete,” Cunningham said. “But our kids like the challenge and they’re competitors and they look forward to that opportunity.”
Dean said in practices, the Heights coaches have compared Midlothian to 8-5A powers Belton and Waco Midway.
But that comparison has given the Knights confidence that they have what it takes to get past the first round.
Heights played Belton well in its district opener, a 3-1 loss in which Belton scored two of its runs in the first inning, and Heights defeated Midway 4-1 last Tuesday.
Because of that, Heights doesn’t feel any pressure going up against a Midlothian team that was one game away from a district title.
“It just really matters how well we come out and play,” Dean said. “There’s not really any pressure on us. The pressure is on them, so we’re just going to go out there and have fun and play the best we can, see what happens.”
“It’s like I told them the other day, we don’t have to be the best team in the state of Texas to beat these guys,” Cunningham said. “We just have to be the best team on the field that day. So we have to go out and play a good, solid, all-around game.”
HARKER HEIGHTS VS. MIDLOTHIAN
All games at Waco ISD Sports Complex.
- GAME 1 — Thursday, 7 p.m.
- GAME 2 — Friday, 7 p.m.
- GAME 3 (if necessary) — Saturday, Noon