• July 25, 2014

4th-seed Belton not crazy to think about softball title

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Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 7:59 am, Tue Sep 25, 2012.

I am just going to give it to you straight.

The least I can do is level with you.

The chances are not good. Not good like one out of a hundred? No.

I'd say more like one out of a million.

But, yes, I'm telling you there's a chance.

It may be dumb or even dumber to think that a fourth-seed out of a district can win a state title, but don't try to convince Belton softball coach Matt Blackburn that it can't be done.

"I am not saying we are a state championship caliber team, but I think anybody has a chance once the playoffs starts," Blackburn said Saturday. "It is the team that wants it the most and makes the fewest errors."

Blackburn's Lady Tigers finished fourth in District 12-5A and had to win a game against Ellison on the last day of the season just to make the playoffs.

However, with a 3-1 win over Mesquite Horn on Saturday the Lady Tigers have already defeated one district champion.

Now, they want more.

And there is a chance they could get it.

At least Blackburn has a precedent to lean on. A fourth seed has won the state softball championship before.

Alvin finished fourth in District 24-5A in 2008.

But that didn't stop them.

They defeated District 23 champ Fort Bend Elkins, District 21 champ Sterling, and the champ from its own district, Brazoswood, en route to the state tournament. They then took out powers Odessa and Austin Bowie, which had won Districts 3 and 25, respectively, to win the 5A state championship.

No, Alvin was no slouch. They were 22-8 when they entered the playoffs. But they went 12-1 in the playoffs - losing only to Brazoswood - to win the title.

The one thing that team could do was hit. It scored 57 runs in its 13 games, despite getting shutout twice. When it was on, it poured on 5.5 runs per game on teams, which doesn't seem like much, but for softball, it isn't too shabby - especially in the playoffs.

Belton is the same way. The Lady Tigers put up 19 runs in three games on Mesquite Horn. And while I nor Belton coach Matt Blackburn are touting his team as a title contender, it is clear to see why the University Interscholastic League allows four playoff teams per district.

Yes, the playoffs take forever. Yes, some teams really do not belong. When there are 128 teams allowed to extend their season, that is going to happen.

But the benefit outweighs the problems it creates.

I am just saying it gives everyone a chance.

But it just isn't softball.

For the second time in four years, the Killeen football team was a fourth-place team that helped justified the UIL's decision to add a fourth 4A playoff team from each district with a lengthy playoff run.

After losing three games in their five-game District 8-4A schedule, the Roos (8-4) limped into the playoffs after suffering two losses in their final three regular season games, but because of the UIL's decision to increase the 4A playoff brackets from 96 to 128 teams beginning with the 2008 season, they were given a chance.

In 2008, Killeen advanced to a Division I state quarterfinal (fourth round) only to lose to then-District 25-4A rival and current four-time state champion Lake Travis.

They didn't have much of a chance against the Cavaliers and no, neither Killeen team won a state title or even really was a threat to win one.

But they competed.

And Belton probably won't win a state title, either.

But, at least they have a puncher's chance - even if it is one in a million.

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