SALADO — Salado baseball is one of 32 teams that will participate in the sixth annual Ranch Baseball Invitational this weekend in Franklin.

Lions baseball is hosting the tournament that starts today and has games being played at both Franklin High School and the Franklin Ranch Community Park.

The tournament is one of the largest high school baseball tournament in the state.

After a tough opening schedule, Eagles head coach Kreece Cooper just wants his team to play with confidence, “I want us to keep that competitive edge on us throughout this next weekend and just play clean baseball,” he said. “If we can play clean baseball, I think we can play with anybody.”

Salado will open up the tournament against the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division II state champion Emery/Weiner from Houston at 9 a.m.

“I don’t know much about them,” Cooper said, “but there’s some good quality teams throughout the tournament.”

Large tournaments like this give Cooper’s team of juniors and seniors an opportunity to grow.

“They know how to play baseball,” he said, “but sometimes we cannot incorporate into practice a game-like situation, so it’s good for us.”

Cooper spoke to his team earlier this week about how important it was that every player was on the same page as they moved ahead to prepare for district.

“We can’t go out there and expect to win just because we have four or five returning seniors,” he said of getting the juniors caught up. “We’ve got to get the young guys on board too and get them ready.”

While the ultimate goal is to win, it’s another chance for players to polish their game before district play begins.

For senior Jacob Wilk, he plans to “not do too much” this weekend.

After admitting he chased at the plate a little more than he would have preferred to this point, he is going to use the tournament to “try and stay within myself because when I do, I do a lot better and don’t chase.”

Other area teams are also scheduled to take part in various tournaments.

Killeen and Shoemaker will be participating in the Lampasas tournament this weekend, while Florence heads to Thrall.

Copperas Cove will compete at Bastrop, and Ellison will play in the Hutto/Cedar Creek tournament.

Harker Heights is scheduled to play in the Manor tournament, and Belton will participate in the Highland Park tournament. | 254-501-7562

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