Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: No. 4 seeds in six-team districts, Lewisville and Plano aren’t done yet
When the University Interscholastic League expanded to four playoff teams per district, those opposed to the change often pointed to the small districts. Could a team that finished fourth in a six-team district really do anything in the playoffs?
In softball, definitely.
Just ask the three district champions and three district runners-up that have been knocked out of the Class 5A playoffs this season by Plano and Lewisville, a pair of fourth seeds from six-team districts.
“People talk about how four out of six go. It’s watered down,” Plano coach Cynthia Zea said. “Plano East was the fourth seed a few years ago and went all the way to state.”
Plano East did it in 2009, and Hebron was a fourth seed when it advanced to the 5A state semifinals in 2010. Now Lewisville (25-12) and Plano (20-15) have pushed four rounds into the playoffs — Lewisville in Region I and Plano in Region II.
“We have more losses this season than we’ve had the last two years combined,” said Zea, whose team advanced to the state semis in 2011. “But I’m as confident with this team as I was with those teams.”
Plano, which next faces Kingwood (30-3), and Lewisville, which will take on Lubbock Coronado (36-4), have reason for confidence. Their records are misleading because they played tough nondistrict schedules, then battled in the Dallas area’s two best softball districts.
“I think our district is probably one of the toughest in the state,” Lewisville coach Lori Alexander said. “It certainly had us ready for the playoffs.”
All four District 5-5A playoff teams — Lewisville, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus and Hebron — won their first-round matchups. Marcus knocked off Flower Mound in the third round to join Lewisville in the regional semifinals. All four District 10-5A playoff teams — McKinney Boyd, Plano West, Plano East and Plano — also advanced to the second round. Boyd is in the regional semifinals, and Plano knocked off Plano West last weekend.
Plano was 5-5 in district and won only two of its final five district games. Senior pitcher Calli Irvin, who has signed with Memphis, gives Plano stability on the mound, but the Wildcats lost seven starters from last year’s team.
“We’re kind of jelling and progressing as a team each week,” Zea said. “We knew we were eventually going to get there. We just hoped it wouldn’t be too late.”
Lewisville’s final stretch of the regular season was even more difficult. Freshman pitcher Maribeth Gorsuch suffered an injury to her rib muscles in April and had to take a break from pitching. Lewisville then lost four straight games and stumbled into the playoffs with a 4-6 record in district.
But Gorsuch’s injury allowed senior Chloe Campise to get added work, and the team now uses both in most games. Gorsuch and Campise combined for a pair of shutouts in a sweep of Waco Midway in the regional quarterfinals.
“I don’t think anyone has taken us seriously and has gotten out and done the research and the scouting reports,” Alexander said. “I really think we’ve been overlooked.”
Or they were overlooked. In the fourth round of the playoffs, every opponent is dangerous.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.