AP NEWS

State tournament showdowns await FBCA softball, baseball teams Wednesday night

May 15, 2019

The only thing that separated the excitement on the Pasadena-First Baptist Christian Academy campus Tuesday was a campus street that cuts between the baseball and softball fields.

But on the two diamonds, an obvious fun excitement permeated the two respective sites.

And for a very good reason.

Both the baseball and softball teams are headed for the Division 3 Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ state championship tournament at Crosby High School Wednesday night.

Both so far own 2-0 postseason records. The neat thing about FBCA’s twin accomplishments is the fact that neither won their districts, but here they are at the coveted state championship tournament.

The girls will attempt to keep their season alive when they take on The Woodlands Christian at 6:30.

The baseball team will attempt to tackle District 7 champion Northland Christian in a 7:30 start.

“We’ll tee it up and see what happens,” Warriors baseball coach David Turner said.

“The girls’ confidence level has soared through the roof. They’re playing as a team,” Lady Warriors head coach Jody Clark said.

As in the previous playoff games, freshman Lauren Fitch will get the starting nod in the pitching circle, followed by senior Ali Dutton making an appearance at some point in the middle innings.

The two combined for 12 strikeouts last Monday night in their Area championship win over Northland Christian.

They’ll need their strikeouts tonight, that’s for sure. But if The Woodlands Christian is putting the ball in play, the defense must make an appearance in Crosby.

“If we go mistake free or make a minimal amount, we’ll have a chance,” Clark said.

The defense didn’t play well against Northland Christian, committing four errors. But there was plenty of hitting in the 16-7 win to overcome the defensive hiccups. Six of the seven runs were unearned.

Fitch not only can hold her own in the pitching circle, she’s aggressive at the plate. She accounted for the 15th and 16th runs with an inside-the-park home run.

Throughout the lineup, the girls have basehits in their bats, so they’ve got to find those hits tonight and the attack has to start with the likes of Sara Bailey, Alex Garcia, Jessica Rushing and Dutton.

As for the baseball team, they have no choice but to try and thrive in the underdog’s role. They’ll be the only team in the Division 3 field that didn’t win a district championship.

Turner will be in a quandary as to who he’ll start on the mound tonight. Brayden Evans, his ace, is uncertain because he pitched Saturday, but Turner got him out of there in time to go on three days rest.

Jake Sweeney, who could be looking at some minor off-season shoulder surgery, had his longest relief stint Saturday and did well. He’ll be available but for how long is the next question.

“It’ll probably be a game-time decision,” said Turner, who could also use Josh Towe or Bailey Baird, another southpaw like Evans.

The pitching has been spectacular in the playoffs. The Warriors have yet to surrender a postseason run over 13 innings and that’s on top of a 3-0 win over Rosehill Christian on April 29 in a playoff preparation game.

No doubt, Turner will be looking to his small ball attack to create big opportunities.

“If Jake gets on, we’re bunting the ball. Jake reads the pitcher well and he’s going to get a good jump. That’s what happened the other night. We played small ball (the bunt) to get the runner to second and Brayden knocked them in,” Turner said.

For the seniors, they’ve enhanced the program’s baseball-savvy reputation. They were just pups when the program won its first state title in 2015 but now they’ve made it grow.

“These seniors, they’ve been here three straight years. That’s incredible,” said Turner, whose teams have been to state six of the last nine seasons.

ravery@hcnonline.com