Sports > Schools
Ready to pounce: Leopards set for bi-district play after break
When Lovejoy baseball takes the field for today's best-of-3 bi-district opener against Carrollton Ranchview, it'll be the first meaningful game the team has played in 11 days.
The Leopards have been biding their time since the conclusion of District 11-3A play on April 23, where the Leopards learned their fate as the district's No. 3 seed after dropping a 9-5 tiebreaker to Farmersville.
That continued the all too cyclical nature of the team's 2012 campaign.
"Like any baseball player or team, you're going to go through your ups and downs," said Brooke Court, Lovejoy head coach. "We started off slow, got hot in the middle of the season and then went down a bit, but I think we're starting to get ourselves out of that little funk we've been in.
"We're playing better, pitching better and hitting better, so hopefully it comes together."
At one time claiming 12 straight victories, a streak that spanned March 2-30, the Leopards enter today's matchup having lost 5-of-8, the latest of which came Saturday in a postseason warm-up during which they dropped a 4-3 decision to Sherman.
"Our kids competed well considering we were up against their No. 1, [Chris] Gittens," Court said. "We did well against him, but just made a few errors here and there in one inning and unfortunately they got a sac fly in the bottom of the seventh."
Lovejoy has shown recent improvement from the plate and mound, both of which will be invaluable against a Ranchview squad that enters the playoffs as 12-3A's No. 2 seed.
"[Ranchview] is going to be a good team and we'll definitely compete against them," Court said. "If you look at their stats and stolen bases, they definitely have speed on the basepaths, so we'll have to control their running game."
That speed runs throughout the lineup as Ranchview boasts six players with at least 15 steals. Four of those have at least 20 stolen bases, led by 37 from Jordan Eagleton and 34 from James Eagleton. The latter leads Ranchview in batting average (.553), RBIs (53) and hits (42), while also posting a 2.39 ERA. Jordan isn't far behind, complementing a 3.82 ERA with 34 hits and a .442 average from the plate.
It'll make a game task for the Leopards, who pride themselves on pitching depth.
Over the three-day haul, that depth will be put to the test with senior Joey Gammon slated to throw Game 1 (today at 7:30 p.m.), likely followed by junior Logan Michaels in Game 2 (Friday at 7:30 p.m.) and either senior Zach Hobgood, junior Kyle McGuinness or senior David Dillard for a potential Game 3 (Saturday at noon).
All games will be played at The Colony.
"One of the good things about the varsity team here is that we've always got deep pitching staffs," Court said. "If one guy is having a bad day, we can go ahead and go to the next guy. I have confidence in every one of them to go out there, throw strikes and compete."