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Thursday, May 31, 2012
State trip on line for Heath, Wakeland baseball

By Travis L. Brown

Rockwall-Heath hopes the third time will be the charm in its quest for a state tournament berth.

This weekend marks the third straight regional final for the Hawks, who have failed to punch a ticket to Round Rock in any of their previous attempts.

It leaves the team with a sense of urgency that this is the year the Hawks must make it happen, coach Greg Harvey said, but that is all part of the everyday playoff grind.

“We feel comfortable where we’re at and we’re playing good baseball. I feel as good as this point as we ever have getting to this point. We just need to stay hot at bat and have good pitching.”

For the second time in three years, Heath faces another Dallas-area powerhouse, Frisco Wakeland, in the regional semifinals. Wakeland took that series easily, 2-0, on 14-6 and 12-3 wins.

Harvey has senior stars Jake Thompson and Jovan Hernandez again leading the pack with four years of experience under their belts.

Both hit for outstanding average and power, even with the new BBCOR bats, and Thompson is always a challenge to hitters from the mound.

Wakeland, too, has veteran returners who are very similar to the Hawk tandem in Willie Schwanke and Hayden Nixon, both outstanding starting pitchers.

Schwanke is also a threat at the plate, leading the team in average and RBIs.

“I think they are both aces and we have our work cut out for us no matter who we face,” Harvey said. “Certainly Schwanke is the catalyst of their offense. He’s their RBI and batting average leader and is a dangerous weapon in their lineup.”

The best-of-three series runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday (if necessary) at 7:30 p.m. at McKinney Boyd High School.

Arlington Martin takes early lead in 5A region final

Arlington Martin’s all-around depth has already helped the Warriors take a 1-0 lead over Southlake Carroll in their best-of-three 5A baseball regional final.

One piece of Martin’s deep pitching staff, Collin Day, threw a gem and set his team up for a 7-3 win at TCU’s Lupton Stadium.

That enables Martin coach Curt Culbertson to start Warrior ace Turner Larkins in either Game 2 or 3 (if necessary) with plenty of able arms behind him for support.

However, Southlake also has its ace Tyler Alexander ready to throw Thursday or Friday.

The Dragons can also rely on the state championship experience that top hitter and quarterback Kenny Hill gained in his journey to a 5A Division I state football championship last fall.

The series continues Thursday and Friday (if necessary) at 7:30 p.m. at Lupton Stadium.