Playoff time: Patriots ready for first round of the playoffs against the Hooper Colts
Published 3:00 am Friday, April 15, 2016
As the 2016 AISA Class 3A state playoffs get underway today, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots have a singular mission.
“Our seniors have a sour taste in their mouth with how we went out of the playoffs last year,” said Patriots head coach Allen Ponder. “I am expecting a different atmosphere all the way around on Friday.”
The Pike Patriots finished the regular season with a 25-12 overall record and drew the Hooper Colts in a best two-out-of-three first round matchup.
Ponder said the post-season play brings a new intensity to the team.
“It’s a little more intense,” Ponder said. “The players have sense urgency knowing that any game could be the last one you ever have. It makes it a little bit more exciting.”
A second-place finish gave the Patriots the opportunity to host the first round of playoffs today.
“It’s always important to play at home,” Ponder said. “I believe we have one of the best baseball atmospheres in high school baseball. Our fans love baseball and they always show up for games. We look at it as an advantage for us. For us to be able to do that and put ourselves in that position to play at home in this round is very important.”
The Patriots swept the season series over the Colts, but Hooper’s style of play is good enough to give the Patriots problems if they’re not ready.
“Hooper has a very scrappy team,” Ponder said. “They are the type of team that can beat you on any given day. They have some good athletes, and we understand we have to come out and play good baseball in order to win.”
The first game in the series will be pivotal, he said.
“Whoever wins that one has the momentum going into game two and three. For us it is very important to come out and get a good start tomorrow.”
Reed Jinright hopes to be the spark the Patriots are looking for as the starting pitcher for game one. The sophomore has pitched well lately.
“We would like to see him hit more bats early in the count and pitch to contact to give our defense a chance to play,” Ponder said. “He does a good job at missing bats but at times that gets his pitch count up. We have stressed pitching to contact to get him deeper into games. Tomorrow (Friday) we hope he is able to do that.”
Game one between the Colts and the Patriots is scheduled for 3 p.m. with game two to follow approximately 20 minutes after. If game three is necessary will be Saturday at 1 p.m.