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 teamâ€™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 thatâ€™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.
â€śItâ€™s an entirely new sea-son,â€ť Herrera said. â€śItâ€™s a two- or three-game season now. I think weâ€™re pretty confident and at ease now that weâ€™re in the playoffs. Iâ€™ve talked with our seniors and theyâ€™re ready. Their goal is to go further than we did last year.â€ť
Five of those seniors â€” first baseman Greg Aiken, shortstop Dylan Bennett, second baseman-pitcher James Clift, outfielder Kal-eb Hoover and outfielder-pitcher Stephen May â€” also started for last yearâ€™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 tonightâ€™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 Fridayâ€™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.
â€śI think we were still riding off some of that emotion when we faced Monahans,â€ť Herrera said. â€śWe just need to get back to the kind of ball we were playing the three games before that.
â€śWeâ€™ve just got to go out there and get after it. Every (playoff) round is a chance to keep on playing and moving forward.â€ť
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.