No. 7 Groveton is having their best season in baseball program history and doing it under new head coach Wayne Williams.
At 27-2, the Indians are on a 23-game win streak that's lead them to their first-ever regional seminal.
“We've won 23 straight games and we’re trying to keep it rocking and rolling,” said Williams. “We don't plan on losing anymore and as a coach, it's my job to make sure that happens.”
In Williams first year in Groveton, he got the Indians through an undefeated district run. Since then they’ve powered through their opponents in playoffs, outscoring them 36-2.
“Up to this point we've just played solid defense. I stress defense. It's hard to beat a team that doesn't make a lot of errors,” said Williams.
“We’re just staying focused and trying to play error-free baseball. We try not to make any mistakes,” said pitcher Glenn Thornton. “Once you get to this point, when you make mistakes the other team is going to make you pay for it.”
Defense and pitchers Thornton and Hayden Terry have helped record four shutouts this postseason. Thornton has a 1.07 ERA while Terry has a .77 ERA.
Then the offensive power off the Indian sticks has been unmatched with their team batting average at .387, with 294 runs and counting.
“Our offense is a little bit of everything. We play a little small ball and hit it in the gaps sometimes too. We're pretty versatile on offense,” said Thornton.
“Our sticks almost 1-9 are able to put the ball in play. We don't really strike out too much. We put the ball in play,” said Terry.
Williams has not only coached his team up for success, but he's been a living example of how to overcome adversity. As much as Williams has been there for his players, the roles were reversed when his father died midseason with liver cancer.
“We just felt like we needed to pick him up. He was in a low spot with his dad passing away. We needed to do something for him because he's been there for us too,” said Thornton.
The players decided to surprise Williams by stitching his dad’s initials on their ball caps, with a green ribbon which symbolizes liver cancer. They also placed green ribbons on the back of their batting helmets.
“They rallied behind me. It was rough on me but they picked me up and they helped me out,” said Williams.
With their eyes set on making it to state, they're playing for more than just themselves.
“I know my mom and dad are looking down on us because they love baseball,” said Williams.
“We feel no challenge is too big for us. We like to take on challenges,” said Terry. “We got a really good shot. We're not going to be satisfied until we get to Austin.”
Groveton’s regional semifinal matchup will be against Simms Bowie. Their series will be held at Longview High School. Game 1 starts Thursday at 7 p.m. Game 2 will be Saturday at noon. If necessary, Game 3 will follow.
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