By Josh Havard
With a tough district schedule in the rearview mirror, the Diboll Lumberjacks will see a familiar face when they open the playoffs against the Carthage Bulldogs this week.
Carthage, the District 19-4A champion, and the team that knocked Diboll out of the playoffs last season, is expected to give the ‘Jacks a tough test.
However, that doesn’t mean Diboll will have any added motivation in this week’s matchup.
“Carthage is a solid baseball team with good pitching and opportunistic hitting,” Diboll head coach Todd Foley said. “They are just another good team of many that we have played this season.”
Diboll was the fourth-place team in District 20-4A this season, finishing with an overall record of 8-15 and a district mark of 2-10.
However, the Lumberjacks have a pair of wins over perennial state powerhouse Hudson and they dropped a heartbreaker to an 18-6 Huntington team in the regular-season finale.
That doesn’t mean Carthage, another perennial state powerhouse, will have a cakewalk into the area round.
“The team understands that when we play mistake-free baseball, we can beat anyone,” Foley said. “The pitching in our district has prepared us for anything we might face.”
Diboll has gotten consistent contributions on the mound throughout the season. Pitchers that will share the load this week include Sean Myers, Edgar Padilla, Kyle Guevara and Kevin Hurley.
Some of the key hitters for Diboll include leadoff man Andrew Rios along with Hurley and Padilla.
Carthage was the District 19-4A champion this season and comes in to this week’s playoff with a 15-6 overall record.
The Bulldogs have been playing their best baseball at the right time by winning 11 of 12 games since a 12-2 loss to Pine Tree on March 5.
Carthage went 10-1 in district action with the only loss being a 3-2 setback against Henderson.
The Lumberjacks know playing their best will be a key to move on to the second round.
“We have to be more consistent as a team and play mistake-free baseball,” Foley said.
The best-of-three series will start on Friday night at 7 in Carthage. The series will then shift back to Diboll on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game. A third game, if necessary, would follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second game.
The winner of this series will face the Lorena/Groesbeck winner. That series starts on Friday night at 7 in Lorena before moving to Groesbeck on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game.