Woden has wiped themselves a clean slate this season, making 2017 their year.
After a 17-year district title drought, the taste of winning has only left the Eagles wanting more in this postseason run.
“This is definitely one of my favorite teams I've ever played on,” said Woden catcher Lance Albritton.
After a lot of growing pains, the Eagles have established a new standard for the program now that they've found themselves in the area-round and were crowned district champs for the first time in 17 years. The team admits it makes them proud to wear the Woden brand across their chest.
“It gives us a sense of pride knowing that we've accomplished something that hasn't been done here in a long time,” said Woden pitcher Ethan Jacobs.
“Not just us on the field but everybody in the community is honored to wear that Woden name,” said Albritton.
Head coach Brad Stevens has witnessed the complete 180 this team has pulled off. His seniors went from winning just six games their freshmen year, to going 20-4 this year.
“Your ultimate goal as a coach is to see every one of your players be successful. That success with all of them coming together and winning is all you can ask for as a coach,” said Stevens.
The quest to clinching the district title came with just one loss and an unbeatable approach at the plate.
The Eagles hit over .400 during district play, while averaging just under 11 runs per game and only allowing two runs against on average. Woden penciled in stats that many opponents underestimated they were capable of and boy were they wrong.
“Everyone used to say, ‘We're playing Woden. It's an easy game,’” said Albritton. “Now, after our group came in it's like, ‘Oh, it's Woden.’”
“We've got good pitching, we've got good hitting and guys who have learned how to win through the years,” said Stevens.
“We have such a brotherhood. We genuinely like each other. It's not a bunch of individuals. It's one collective team coming together for the same goal,” said Jacobs.
With confidence at an all-time high, their humbling past is keeping them levelheaded as they enter each playoff game like it could be their last.
“I'm not that worried but you can't take anyone lightly,” said Albritton.
“We're not going to underestimate anybody but we feel like if we play to the best of our abilities, we can beat just about anybody,” said Jacobs.
Woden will play Alto in the area-round. Their best-of-three game series will be held at Nacogdoches High School. They start the series Thursday at 7 p.m. Game 2 will be Friday at 7 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 will be Saturday at 1 p.m.
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