Tough district start does not keep baseball out of playoffs; Wildkats defeat Tigers to secure spot

#WhyNotUs leads team into playoffs

photo or infographic by Emma Lowe
WHY NOT US? At the last game of the scheduled season, senior Jaxon Burns pitches against the Conroe Tigers. The team won two in a row against the Tigers to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Fans crowd shoulder to shoulder vying for a spot to watch the monumental game. Senior night, playing a cross-town rival and a win or go home situation drives the emotions through the roof. The atmosphere is driven by the excitement of what is at stake, yet the players involved know that they control their destiny within the diamond. Seven innings will decide the fate of the season. 

The varsity baseball team defeated Conroe 10-5 in the final regular-season game on Friday April 29, earning the team a playoff berth. The first round of the playoffs will begin on Friday May 6 against MacArthur at Elliot Lansford Baseball Field. 

After starting the season with a dismal 0-6 record in district play, the team knew they had something to prove. Turning the season around was a top priority in the locker room. 

“It feels great to prove to everyone, including ourselves, that anything is possible,” senior Dawson Dobraski said. “We proved that we can change our own fate.” 

The motto for the last few games of the season was “why not us?” This mentality ran through the players mind and kept them motivated in a season when they weren’t projected to make the playoffs. 

“We were projected to place last in the district, so our motto basically highlighted the underdog mentality we had all year,” senior Marshall Niederhofer said.

Going into the elimination game, players knew that every player served a vital role on the team. 

“Everyone on the team has an important role whether they are picking up their teammates or playing on the diamond,” junior Logan Wilson said.

The game was an up and down affair. Errors were made, but senior leadership and a positive mindset allowed for the offense to step up and start a rally to win the game. 

“It felt pretty good to do some damage in the box after giving up two runs on an error earlier in the game,” senior Matthew Johnson said.

One of the largest crowds to gather at a game was a key factor in the game and ultimately contributed to the win. 

“The atmosphere of the game was phenomenal,” junior Braydon Hawthorne said. “The crowd gave us the inspiration we need to fight for our season and carry us into the playoffs.”

Ending the game with a groundout to second secured the win and a chance to play in the playoffs. 

“Pitching the last inning to qualify for the playoffs was unreal,” senior James Davenport said. 

The win gives the team the opportunity to play in the postseason for the first time since 2019 and is a huge boost to morale for the seniors in their final season. 

“After three rough seasons, it was great to win on senior night to secure a playoff spot with the teammates I’ve grown up playing with,” senior Hagen Macaluso said.

Over the weekend following the win, the team demonstrated their brotherhood by collectively dyeing their hair. It also serves as a symbol to the rest of the school.

“Dyeing our hair was a symbol of unity and it is something that shows the school that we made the playoffs,” junior Hutton Hoegemeyer said.

The pitcher slated to start is excited and prepared going into the first round of the postseason in their game against MacArthur. 

“It doesn’t stress me out at all, ” sophomore Maddox Keo said. “I’m going to go in there and play my game.”

The seniors are well aware that their days on the team are numbered. Injuries and sickness are factors that no one sees coming, yet they have the power to decide the fate of players’ seasons. While off the field, their job as a player and friend is far from over. 

“I’ve been able to show the guys what it means to play every game like it is your last,” senior Colson Schubert said. “Games are never guaranteed, and the sport you love can be taken away at any time.”