Written by Matt Wixon
Plano's intangibles, luck help stake it to regional final and hopeful first state berth since 1975
PLANO — When Ryan Robertson rounded third base and headed for home Saturday, he knew it was going to be a close play. The Klein Collins catcher was preparing to take the throw as the speedy Plano senior tried to score the winning run.
“I knew I had to beat it,” Robertson said. “I knew I just had to get there.”
He got there, sliding in just before the tag, and now Plano is in the Class 5A Region II final. But although the Wildcats are deeper in the playoffs than they have been since 1999, the much-discussed “there” is still down the road.
That would be the state tournament, where Plano hasn’t been since 1975. But to get there, Plano (30-11-1) will need to beat Humble Atascocita (29-8-1) in a best-of-3 series that begins at 8 p.m. Thursday at Concordia University in Austin.
“Our slogan ‘never satisfied’ definitely comes into play,” said junior pitcher/outfielder Mitchell Hansen, the Stanford commit whose infield hit led to Robertson’s winning run. “It’s great that we’ve gone this far, but it’s not the end goal.”
The “never satisfied” slogan emerged in the fall, when Plano was building toward this season and still feeling the sting of last spring’s loss to Rockwall in the regional quarterfinals. It was the third straight season Plano had advanced at least two rounds in the playoffs, but the ending was still disappointing.
Plano hasn’t had to settle for any consolation prizes this year. The Wildcats ran away with the District 10-5A title and have won 12 of their last 14 games.
“We work together really well,” junior outfielder Cody Farhat said. “It’s not just one person going up there trying to hit bombs. We back each other up in everything that we do.”
With contributions from throughout the lineup, Plano has averaged seven runs per game in its last two playoff series. The pitchers have been strong, and the defense has made plays behind them.
“You’ve got to have all those things,” coach Rick Robertson said, “and a little bit of intangibles, and a little bit of luck.”
Guts help, too. Coach Robertson showed that when he decided, after an errant Collins throw got past the first baseman, to send his son from third. It was going to be close, the coach knew, but it was a calculated risk.
“A risk we needed to take,” he said.
Plano might never get another opportunity, after all, and the Wildcats had been running aggressively throughout the season. So with Coach Robertson swinging his arm like a windmill, Ryan Robertson turned for home and then slid in as the catcher took the throw. Robertson got his left foot over the edge of the plate and saw the umpire make the call.
“The feeling was indescribable,” Ryan Robertson said.
It was indescribable but not completely satisfying. The Wildcats won’t be satisfied until they win the school’s first state baseball title.
“One win isn’t good enough,” Farhat said. “We’ve got to keep this going, because all we want is state.”