One day remains for the Burnet High School baseball team to make its postseason debut, a first for the program in quite some time.
The Bulldogs (11-13-1, 7-8 District 19-4 third place) face La Grange (17-9, 8-2 District 20-4A co-champions) in a bi-district best-of-three series at Hutto High School, 101 FM 685 in Hutto. Game one will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, May 6, with game two to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one, and game three, if necessary, will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7.
Burnet head coach Russell Houston named his game one starting pitcher — senior Clayton Zinz.
“He’s going to go compete on the mound,” Houston said. “He’ll throw a bunch of strikes and keep us in the ball game. Clayton gives us our best chance to put the best defense we can. It’s a gut feeling, and our kids play defense behind him. It allows us to put our best defense out there. We tend to play very good defense behind him. There’s a calmness about him, and our kids respond to that. He’s put in all the hard work for four years. He gives us the best chance to win.”
The coach did not name a game two starter, preferring to see the outcome of game one.
“If we’re fortunate enough to win game one, we’ll probably go with Kurt Kassner, the lefty,” he said. “If we lose, we’ll go with Ralston Vance.”
As for what he’s expecting from the Leopards, Houston said it doesn’t change much from what the Bulldogs have been preparing for throughout the season.
“You don’t need to know that much about them,” he said. “They’re going to have a guy on the mound who’s going to go compete. Every game is different depending on if the guy is on or we’re hitting the ball really well.”
While this current group of Bulldogs doesn’t know what postseason baseball feels like, the coach likes the way his players are preparing.
“They’re pretty relaxed, they’re excited about being here,” he said. “Their first goal was to get in the playoffs. Now their goal is to win a playoff game and then it’ll be to win a playoff series. It’s baby steps. We have to win one before we can win two. I think they’re ready to play. I’m excited for them, I’m excited for our kids. They deserve this opportunity to go play in the playoffs.”
The athletes have shown the fight and determination to accomplish goals and have a tough district campaign to thank, Houston said. While the postseason has a different feel to it, the formula doesn’t change for Burnet’s success, he added.
“I think mentally they’re excited about being in the playoffs,” he said. “They don’t know what it’s going to be like. We’ve been in a whole bunch of close games. The first couple of innings will be big for us just because they haven’t been in this type of atmosphere. It’ll be ruckus and loud, and they’ll have to control their emotions. We want to control the things we can control — your attitude and your effort — and go play clean baseball. And we’ll have a chance to win. If we can play with great effort, we’ll have a chance to win.”
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