Mustangs to begin playoff run tonight
The 2014 baseball season has been an interesting one for Sweetwater.In terms of overall wins and winning percentage, Sweetwater (18-9) has had its best season since Roland Herrera became head coach in 2009.Yet it has been a struggle of late, with six losses in the team’s last nine games as the Mustangs, who made the playoffs for the second straight year, were only the No. 4 seed in District 4-3A.But Herrera said that’s all in the past as Sweetwater begins a best-of-3 bi-district series with Pecos (18-8) at 7 p.m. today in Denver City.Game 2 will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the same location, with Game 3 to follow if necessary. The winner will face Lubbock Cooper in the area playoffs.“It’s an entirely new sea-son,” Herrera said. “It’s a two- or three-game season now. I think we’re pretty confident and at ease now that we’re in the playoffs. I’ve talked with our seniors and they’re ready. Their goal is to go further than we did last year.”Five of those seniors — first baseman Greg Aiken, shortstop Dylan Bennett, second baseman-pitcher James Clift, outfielder Kal-eb Hoover and outfielder-pitcher Stephen May — also started for last year’s team that advanced to the third round of the playoffs.Aiken is batting a team-high .444 this season, while May is hitting .356, Clift .319, Hoover .312 and Ben-nett .273. Junior J.P. Poe, who is 6-2 with a microscopic 0.44 ERA, is expec-ted to start tonight’s opener on the mound. The other likely starters will be junior Tyler Beasley (.329) at third base, junior Hayden Reeves (.315) at catcher, and soph-omore Michael Lawrence, a recent call-up from the JV, in the outfield. Pecos was the champion of District 3-3A this season and has a senior-domina-ted lineup that, like Sweet-water, has several returning all-district players.Last Friday’s 7-2 loss to Monahans in a third-place tiebreaker came on the heels of a 4-2 win at Snyder that clinched a playoff spot for Sweetwater. “I think we were still riding off some of that emotion when we faced Monahans,” Herrera said. “We just need to get back to the kind of ball we were playing the three games before that. “We’ve just got to go out there and get after it. Every (playoff) round is a chance to keep on playing and moving forward.”Reeves will be back in the lineup after missing the last two games due to injury, Herrera said, and will also be available to pitch if nec-essary as will Clift, May, Beasley, Scott Warner and possibly others.