One Series at a Time

Published 12:03 am Friday, April 27, 2012

Opp’s Thomas Weed (2) slides into second base Saturday during the third game of the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp visits No. 6 Bayside Academy today for 2nd round

Two years ago on a soggy Saturday afternoon, Opp — then in Class 4A — was neck-and-neck with UMS-Wright in Mobile during the second round of the state playoffs.

The Bulldogs ended up winning that game and went on to win the state championship in 2010.

But, for the Bobcats, it left a sour taste in their mouths.

Opp will have another opportunity today against Bayside Academy on the other side of Mobile Bay in Daphne in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs. This will be the first time that Opp will try to advance farther than the second round since 1994, when it finished as state runner up.

Today’s games will be a doubleheader, starting at 4 p.m., and a third game will be played tomorrow at noon, if the teams split.

OHS coach Michael Cassady said his message to his players — four of whom were on the 2010 team — is simple.

“We’re not going down there with the same mind set of being satisfied to being in the first round. We’re not going down there for that,” Cassady said. “We’re going down there to win two-out-of-three games. Whatever we’ve got to do to do that, whether it’s somebody needing to step it up and make that pitch, or somebody’s got to get in that box and make the hit, or somebody’s got to make the catch in the field. Then that’s what we’ve got to do.

“We can’t be satisfied with being area champs and also winning the first round,’ ” he said.

The Bobcats will face an Admirals baseball team that is 26-6 on the season and No. 6 in the polls. Last week, BA beat Geneva 3-0 in game three on Saturday to advance.

Opp split with T.R. Miller on Friday, and beat the Tigers 11-4 in game three at home. The Bobcats tallied 36 hits against TRM in the series.

But, Cassady said every team in the second round is going to be “good.”

“You can’t take anybody that you play lightly,” he said. “You can’t look at the third round, ahead to the fourth round and see where you’re playing, whether it’s home or away.

“We’re not looking to sweep, or get swept, we’re looking to play the best two-out-of-three, whatever that is,” he said.

Cassady said Bayside Academy has three to four good pitchers in its arsenal, and that each doesn’t necessarily throw that hard, but “they locate well.”

“Defensively, they’re sound,” he said. “Hitting-wise, everybody can bunt. They’ll try to pressure you defensively.”

Cassady said in a way, it’s going to be like playing his own team.

“A lot of folks do tell me that we are similar,” he said. “We hit the ball about like they do. Our pitchers are similar to their pitchers. It’s going to be a task, and it’s going to be tough.”

With good pitching comes strikes, and that has been the biggest key for Opp in the playoffs, Cassady said.

This week is no different, he said.

When asked whether he thinks his players are focused on the task at hand, Cassady didn’t hesitate to say that they are.

“They remember,” he said about 2010. “One of them remembered the sour taste in their mouth. You always think on paper that was the state championship.

“It was 1-1 in the sixth inning in game two. We were that close to getting there. They have been focused. I think it’s a different team. They really realize what’s at stake. They realize that if we win, we’re at home for the third round.”

And, there’s no place like home.