Written by Corbett Smith
Check out five area-round baseball playoff series you can't miss
After a surprisingly upset-free bi-district round -- especially so considering how many tough districts were matched up against each other -- the area round starts up today (weather permitting).
Of course, there's plenty of great baseball action, as Dallas/Fort Worth-area teams battle to get to Round Rock and Austin, for a chance to be the area's first title winner since Plano West in 2008.
The best two series are nearly identical match-ups, featuring a 5A district champ (Hurst L.D. Bell and South Grand Prairie ) versus a higher-ranked district runner-up (Coppell and Plano).
The Hurst L.D. Bell (26-8) / Coppell (29-6-1) series features two future Big XII stars, in L.D. Bell catcher Hunter Lockwood (Oklahoma) and Coppell IF Adam Toth (Baylor). Lockwood is the leading home run hitter in 5A in the area (16), while Toth is batting .487, with seven home runs, 20 steals and 32 RBI. Coppell, ranked No. 2 in the final area rankings, cruised over a tough Flower Mound team in the first round, outscoring them 21-2 in a two-game sweep. Brad Adams, the Game One starter for L.D. Bell, No. 6 in the final rankings, pitched a perfect game in a 10-0 win over Grand Prairie.
(Editor's note: Below information updated Thursday because of rain.)
Gm. 1: 7:00 Friday at Hurst L.D. Bell
Gm. 2: 1:00 Saturday at Coppell HS
Gm. 3 (if nec.): 30 mins. after Game 2
Equally as intriguing is the South Grand Prairie (25-9) / Plano (25-6) series. SGP is one of the most aggressive teams on the basepaths, with Candon Myles (45 steals, the area's best), Tyler Edwards (24), Logan Tucker (23), Jacoby Middleton (22) and Matt Contreras (21) all among the top 10 area base stealers in Class 5A. But, in order to steal, one must get on base. Plano's starting trio of seniors Ryan McCarthy (Rice), Tripp Cecil and Alex Bisacca (both Paris JC) are one of the deepest in the area.
Gm. 1: 7:30 Thursday at South Grand Prairie
Gm. 2: 7:30 Friday at Plano
Gm. 3 (if nec.): 2:00 Sat. at FM Marcus HS
Here's some other key match-ups to watch:
Southlake Carroll (27-6) vs. Mansfield Legacy (24-10) -- Legacy had one of the few upsets in the first round, beating a slightly favored Irving team in three games. Its prolific offense (averaging 8.24 runs per game) was the difference in that series' clincher, a 13-5 win. Southlake Carroll, the No. 1 ranked area team heading into the playoffs, can beat teams in a number of ways. Probable Game One starter, Texas signee John Curtiss, is tough pitcher to face to open any series, and the Dragons are equally adept with the bat.
Gm 1: Thursday, 4 p.m. at Southlake Carroll
Gm 2: Friday, 7 p.m. at Mansfield Legacy
Gm 3: (if nec): Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mansfield Legacy
Hillcrest (28-4-1) vs. Carrollton Creekview (23-6) -- Dallas ISD's best 4A team, Hillcrest will be the only 4A DISD team likely to offer any significant resistance in the area round. Paul Peters, Cameron Smith and Taylor Hinojosa -- the DISD superintendent's son -- are some of the big bats in that lineup. Creekview -- the runners-up behind Frisco Wakeland in a loaded District 9-4A -- will be a big hurdle. Creekview beat Hillcrest, 6-0, in a tournament early in the season, with Hayden Howard pitching a four-hitter.
Gm 1: 5 p.m. Thursday at Hillcrest (ORIGINALLY WED., POSTPONED BY RAIN)
Gm 2; 7:30 p.m. Friday at Carr. Creekview
Gm 3: (if nec): 11 a.m. Saturday site TBD
Lovejoy (25-6) vs. Sanger (21-12) -- A one-game series gives the underdog, Sanger, a fighting chance. Lovejoy, the state's No. 1 ranked 3A team, has one of the best hitting teams in the class, with 14 multi-homer games. Jace Melby and Tanner DeVinny have combined for 21 homeruns this season. Sanger will likely rely on the pitching prowess of star quarterback Dane Evans, who's one of the area leaders in ERA (9-2, 1 sv., 0.84).
7:00 Thursday at Frisco Heritage HS