By Todd Wills
Special to the Daily Sun
By now we know all of the storylines that involve a Corsicana-Waxahachie baseball showdown.
The Indians coach, Tracy Wood, used to be the Tigers coach. Corsicana coach Heath Autrey graduated from Waxahachie.
The Tigers and Indians are on-again, off-again district companions. They have a long-standing rivalry. It’s not a county-based rivalry like Waxahachie-Ennis, but it’s one built more on both schools being traditionally strong in baseball and football and other sports.
Oh, then there’s last season.
The Tigers ran away with the District 16-4A title, beat Hutto in bi-district and won an emotional area round series against Hallsville. Then the Tigers watched Waxahachie celebrate a regional quarterfinal series victory at Price Field. The Indians overcame a Game 1 loss in Waxhachie to beat the Tigers twice in a row in Corsicana.
All of that is a backdrop for the start of the Class 4A bi-district playoffs, with you know who, Corsicana and Waxahachie, staring down each other in a best-of-three bi-district series. The Tigers (25-6-1) are ranked No. 6 in the state and were co-champions in 15-4A. Waxahachie (23-7) was third in District 15-4A.
Game 1 is at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Ennis. Game 2 is at 7 p.m. Friday at Waxahachie’s Richards Park. Game 3, if necessary, is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Price Field.
The rosters have changed since last season, key players are gone, but it’s difficult to get past Waxahachie eliminating Corsicana from the playoffs in 2012.
“Every year is a new year,” Corsicana coach Heath Autrey said. “The best team didn’t win last year. It was the team that didn’t play the best. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve got a young team.”
Wood said he doesn’t know if last season will impact this week, but he sure hopes it does. He dug up a regional semifinal baseball from last year that he had buried in the Richard Park outfield to remind his team what happened in 2012.
“I’m certainly going to try to use it to our advantage,” Wood said. “It’s been talked about.”
As always, Corsicana-Waxahachie will come down to pitching. The Tigers have ace Holden Grounds, who is 11-1, and freshman Trevor Nolen, who has closed out the season with two exceptional outings. The Tigers also can turn to senior Tyler Casbeer, sophomore D.J. Minniear and other pitchers.
The Indians counter with Marshall Herron, who has a very good breaking ball, and Trent Armstrong has pitched well against the Tigers in the past, and closer David Martinelli.
“We’ve got Holden and Trevor,” Autrey said. “Their pitching staff is deeper than ours. We just have to have some guys step up and throw strikes when we need them to.”
Wood said his staff has scouted the Tigers four or five times. He knows all about Grounds, the Texas State signee who has given the Indians fits in the past.
“They’re a good team,” Wood said. “They’ve got their best guy back in Grounds. We know how good he is.”
Both teams are above average defensively. The hitting has been inconsistent. Pitching will be the key, but clutch hits also matter.
The Tigers have seen center fielder Zane Otten, shortstop Hunter Denbow and Grounds swing the bat well lately. Right-fielder Brady Harlan is a dangerous hitter. First baseman Bobby Lopez has been swinging well lately. Left fielder Aaron Cantu was productive in district games.
“We can hit better,” Autrey said. “I haven’t been happy with the way we’re swinging the bat in hitters’ counts. We have some young guys who haven’t played at this point in the season.
“Defensively, we’re doing OK. Offensively we can do better.”
Region II-4A Bi-district
Corsicana vs. Waxahachie
G1, Wednesday, Ennis 7:00
G2, Friday, at Waxahachie 7:00
G3, Saturday, at Corsicana 1:00*
* — if necessary