Could this be the year of the Steer?
Coach Bert Otto and his baseball squad believe it is as they ready themselves for Game One of a three-game series in postseason play against Iowa Park today in Mineral Wells.
Big Spring High School earned a 4-4 (14-15 overall) record in District 5-3A action this year, but the .500 record may not be an accurate reflection of just how hard the Steers charged. Both losses at the hands of Abilene Wylie could have easily gone the other way. Starting pitcher Adam Franco threw a one-hitter against the Bulldogs in their second match-up of the season. Unfortunately, the one hit happened to be a two-run home run which was enough to put Wylie ahead in a 2-1 ball game.
It doesn't matter to Otto, who is confident that his team has what it takes compete with Iowa Park in bi-district.
“Iowa Park is a solid team in a tough district,” he said. “But I think we can say we are evenly matched.”
Resilience has been the theme weaved throughout the season. Otto cites a difficult non-district schedule and the work ethic of his team as keys to their gritty style of play.
“It's our goal to play the tougher non-district teams,” Otto added. “You can give your team a false sense of security if you play weaker teams. We always make our schedule tough.”
Another reason for BSHS's success is Adam Franco.
Franco has been consistent on the mound and has kept the Steers within striking distance of most teams throughout the season. The thought of playing Iowa Park in his playoff debut hasn't bothered the young hurler.
“I take it like it's any other game,” Franco said. “I have just been hanging out with friends and playing Call of Duty (a video game) to try to take my mind off of it.”
Joseph Morelion, a junior, has contributed to the Steers' success with his bat — which has found the ball in clutch situations all year. Like Franco, he is sure that BSHS can play with the likes of Iowa Park.
“We have had a good season,” Morelion said. We have played a lot of good teams and we competed with them.”
Morelion said his fondest memory was of beating Snyder after a rally in the second game against them to complete the season sweep of the perennially powerful Tigers.
“When we beat Snyder, we shocked the world with that win,” Morelion added. “We knew we could do it, and we can beat Iowa Park.”
Otto also had a personal milestone. A Snyder native, he was thrilled to beat his former alma mater for the first time in his career as a coach. When asked what his most memorable moment of the season was, however, Otto said it was clinching a postseason berth.
“The two comebacks against Snyder were really nice," Otto said. “But when we were in Sweetwater for the last game, we knew we had to win. When that ball was foul tipped by Willie Norman right into our glove to end the game — that was the best moment for me.”
The Steers will return from Mineral Wells when game one is wrapped up, and will resume the series at Lubbock Cooper on Saturday at noon. If a Game Three is necessary, it will be played 30 minutes after Game Two concludes.