As Ellison inches closer to clinching a playoff spot, the Eagles remain focused on closing out the District 12-6A baseball race one game at a time.
“We always reference don’t let the next thing trip you up,” said Ellison head coach Ty Oppermann. “Don’t look ahead.
“Everything we do is next game, next at-bat, next pitch, so I don’t let them talk about playoffs.”
The Eagles (17-12, 9-3) finished the first half of 12-6A play with a 4-1 loss at home to district-leading Belton on March 26. Since then, Ellison has won four straight league games (five overall) to take a firm grasp of third place, two games ahead of fourth-place Copperas Cove with four nights remaining in the season.
“They’re getting better because they’re getting confident because of experience,” Oppermann said.
Oppermann gives credit for much of the Eagles’ success to the rigorous tournament schedule and nondistrict games they played earlier in the season.
“That’s why we’ve played all those games,” Opperman explained. “Now there isn’t a situation that they haven’t seen.”
Yet, the Eagles know there is always room to improve. Despite mistakes Ellison makes on the field, they have one philosophy — don’t let one mistake multiply into two or three.
“Shake it off, go to the next play and find your way out of that situation,” Oppermann said. “And they’ve been doing a very good job at that.”
After the loss to the Tigers at the end of March, the Eagles got back on track with a 4-1 victory over the Lions in Waco.
Momentum continued to grow at the start of April as Preston Mills threw a shutout in a 14-0 home win against Shoemaker.
With a 12-6A bye on April 12, Ellison hosted the Austin Waves, a private school from Austin, and ran away with a 15-5 win.
“I think, having been playing the game so much, they’re pretty calm right now,” Oppermann said of his team Tuesday night. “We play the game calm.”
The Eagles were back home Tuesday night to host Copperas Cove in a battle for third place.
Edward Eakin took the mound for the Eagles and threw a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win.
“I think this win is going to really keep us confident,” said Eakin after the victory. “Hopefully keep us in it the rest of the year.”
Ellison then turned its attention to Temple, another 12-6A contender, on Friday and took a 9-1 win over the fifth-place Wildcats.
Ellison heads to Harker Heights next to face the Knights (5-7 12-6A) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Eagles then return home Thursday at 7 p.m. to face Killeen (2-10).
“We’re playing good fundamental baseball right now,” said Oppermann. “We’re averaging 10 strikeouts at the mound and under four at the plate most nights.
“But we’re going back to work tomorrow on base runs and reading heels.”
12-6A BASEBALL STANDINGS
- x-Belton (12-1)
- x-Waco Midway (11-1)
- Ellison (9-3)
- Copperas Cove (7-5)
- Temple (7-6)
- Harker Heights (5-7)
- Waco (3-10)
- Killeen (2-10)
- Shoemaker (0-13)
x-clinched playoff spot