After a disappointing loss on Senior Night Wednesday evening, playoff hopes come down to the last day of the season for the Paschal Panthers.
On Friday evening, Paschal (11-11, 7-6 Dist. 4-6A) will travel to Arlington High to take on the Colts (7-14, 4-9 Dist. 4-6A), who have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
It is not necessarily a must-win game for the Panthers even though they are tied with the North Crowley Panthers for fourth place in the standings. Paschal owns the tiebreaker over North Crowley and will advance to the playoffs with a win or a North Crowley loss.
Head Coach Darrell Preston said it was sad his team was unable to get the seniors a win on Senior Night, but said he told them to keep their heads up.
“I told them that I know it hurts, but if you go and win Friday night and get yourself into the playoffs and then win a first-round playoff series then you aren’t going to remember this,” said Preston.
The first time the Panthers faced off against the Colts this season, the night ended in a thrilling way. The two teams were tied heading into the ninth inning. Arlington scored one run to take the lead, but Paschal scored twice and walked off in the bottom half of the inning to a 10-9 win.
Preston said his team showed a lot of resiliency during that game as they came back from three different deficits before eventually getting the win.
“I’m proud. To show that fight and dig in deep and doing it for each other and pulling for one another,” Preston said. “For them to never get down and just keep fighting is a great thing.”
On the mound for Panthers on Friday will likely be sophomore Austin Smith. Smith got the start the first time Paschal faced Arlington and did not factor in the decision. The southpaw went four innings and allowed three runs on eight hits while striking out one.
Junior Tanner McCaskey is the probable starting pitcher for the Colts. Last time against Paschal, McCaskey allowed six runs but only two earned as his defense made four errors behind him. The right-hander went five innings, allowed seven hits, and struck out six.
Preston said he was optimistic heading into Friday. He said he plans on his team just doing the same thing and bouncing back.
“What we are doing is not broken. You just got to put this behind you and tomorrow is a new day,” Preston said. “We are just going to get back after it and go through our same routine and get ready.”
First pitch at Arlington High on Friday evening is slated for 7 p.m.