Bosqueville Hico softball

Bosqueville pitcher Ally Willis is one of several area softball players who will play in a sudden death playoff game Thursday.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

In the world of high school sports, there is no busier time than the spring.

It all boils down to the sheer quantity of sports happening at once. A confluence of late-season action can provide scheduling nightmares for athletic directors, especially at smaller schools, where one-sport specialization is rare.

Hence the reason that the first round of the UIL softball postseason features so many one-game playoffs this week.

Bosqueville is one of 12 area schools involved in a winner-take-all bi-district game, and Lady Bulldogs coach Clint Zander said it merely came down to trying to allow athletes to participate in more than one sport.

“I think what you’re seeing this weekend is trying to accommodate regional track,” Zander said. “That’s why you’re seeing so many one-game playoffs. Regional track is Friday and Saturday and it limits your options in the first round. I think once we get into next week, you’ll see more teams opting for (three-game) series.”

Other Central Texas teams involved in one-game playoffs include Robinson and Mexia, who face each other Thursday at Waco ISD’s softball complex, Lorena (vs. Madisonville), West (vs. Franklin), Whitney (vs. Lexington), Troy (vs. Rogers), Moody (vs. San Saba), Valley Mills (vs. De Leon), Frost and Riesel (against each other), and Mart against Itasca.

Most coaches of successful softball programs prefer the series format to a one-game playoff, just because of the unpredictability of a single game. Bosqueville will play Goldthwaite in Class 2A bi-district action in Gatesville on Thursday. It’s the third straight year the teams have met in the playoffs, and the Lady Bulldogs should be favored to advance. But Zander said that it’s still up to his team to go out and get it done.

“We started playing really well in the second half of district,” he said. “When we put a full game together, seven innings, it gives us a good chance. … But if we don’t play well, (Goldthwaite) is strong enough to beat us.”

West’s Guyla Smith actually wanted to play a three-game series this week, but her team faces a one-game playoff instead. “It’s just me not being a very good gambler,” Smith said, referring to losing a coin flip to the Franklin coach.

That winner-take-all setup can’t help but add a little extra pressure, Smith said.

“Absolutely, when it’s one-and-done there’s more pressure,” she said. “You’re either moving on, or you’re one-and-barbecue, as the saying goes.”

West is the defending state champion in Class 3A, and one of the players back from that team is ace pitcher Danielle Nors. She helped the Lady Trojans win another district title, and West also is battle-tested with games against the likes of 4A powers like Robinson and Lorena.

The Lady Trojans’ championship experience is a blessing not every team can boast.

“I guess we’ll find out if that helps or not,” Smith said. “Hopefully that big-game experience will help us not be so nervous. We want to be excited, but not nervous.”

Making a state-ment

How’d you like to make the state tournament every year of your program’s existence? That’d be a pretty nice accomplishment, right?

So it goes for the Midway water polo team.

Midway’s club water polo team vanquished Austin LBJ, 10-6, in last weekend’s West Region title game to advance to the five-year-old program’s fifth straight state tournament.

Cooper Shafer, a Midway senior, won region MVP honors after scoring 17 goals in three games, including seven goals in the regional final. Also making the all-region team for Midway were senior Braden Bain and juniors Chris Kazanas and Mark Ferguson. Additionally, Midway coach Alexis Crocker, a senior at Baylor, was named the regional boys’ coach of the year.

The state water polo tournament will be held May 4-5 in Lewisville.

April showers bring spring football

May has almost arrived, and that means football.

Well, OK, Friday night’s lights are still several months away. But for UIL Class 6A and 5A schools, spring football drills are about to kick off. Head coaches tend to view it as an integral training time, a little less stressful than August’s preseason camp, when time is more urgent.

It’s an especially important introductory time for Rodney Smith, who has taken over as University’s football coach after a six-year run as the boys’ basketball coach.

“I’m really excited to see what the guys can do,” Smith said. “We’ve got some new coaches coming in, new coordinators, and it’s really important that we hit the ground running and work hard. It’s an exciting time at University.”

University started workouts on Monday, and will conduct its spring game in late May. Its crosstown rival Waco High will open practice on May 1, and hold its spring game at 6 p.m. on May 25 at Waco ISD Stadium.

Over at Midway, Jeff Hulme’s team started workouts on Wednesday and will close with its spring game on May 24.

The next hurdle

A bevy of Central Texas athletes will take part in this weekend’s regional track meets.

The Region I-6A meet, which will include athletes from Midway and Belton, will be Friday and Saturday at UTA’s Maverick Stadium in Arlington.

One of the busiest stops for local athletes will be the Region III-4A meet in Huntsville, at Sam Houston’s Bowers Stadium. Other meets of local interest include Region III-5A in Humble, Region III-3A at Baylor’s Clyde Hart Stadium, Region III-2A in Palestine, Region III-1A in Whitney and Region IV-1A in Huntsville.

Nominations open

Softball coaches whose seasons are complete may submit nominations for both the Super Centex team and the Texas Sports Writers Association All-State Team.

Super Centex nominations should include a player’s position, classification, statistics and any awards or honors they have won. They may be emailed to Brice Cherry (bcherry@wacotrib.com) or Krista Pirtle (krista.pirtle@wacotrib.com).

TSWA all-state nominations should include the same information. Players should be listed at their primary position. Those nominations can be emailed to Jack Stallard at jstallard@news-journal.com. The deadline is June 6.

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