The Rider Raiders will be returning to the state tournament for the third time in four years, but the team received some unexpected news after Friday night's comeback win against Cleburne.
Shortly after the team punched their ticket to Austin, Head Coach Scot Green announced that this would be his last season coaching at Rider.
"It took us for a surprise," senior pitcher and first baseman Austin Hagy said. "I mean, I was speechless."
"I thought it was coming, but I wasn't expecting him to announce it," said senior catcher Mason Stone. "After we won, everybody got quiet, and I didn't know why we were getting quiet so it was a shock."
Green said the decision came down to his family.
"At the beginning of the year, it's always in your mind," Green said. "When you have a son that's playing at Oklahoma State, and my daughter plays volleyball in the Fall, and my immediate family is here as well. I just felt that at some point in time, it's time to give back to them. They've certainly given to me."
Green has been coaching and teaching at Rider for 18 years, impacting hundreds of students and athletes along the way.
"He's meant the world," Stone said. "He's the reason why I'm the person I am today, and he's been like a dad to me."
"We love Coach Green to death," Hagy agreed. "He's helped us out tremendously throughout this 4 years at Rider, and I love him. He's awesome."
"Being at Rider has been everything to me," Coach Green said. "I went to this school, so when I got the opportunity to come back, it was a lot of special things that came back to me."
Rider won their first baseball state championship just two years ago, and the team is excited for a chance to bring home another trophy.
"It's crazy to look that just two wins and we'll be a state champion," Stone said. "Play our game, and it'll happen."
"Obviously, it would be awesome, [but] we don't think about past this first game," Green said, ever the coach. "All I'm thinking about is Tomball right now. But, if that were to happen, that would be a great thing for these kids."
The Raiders (32-8) take on Region III-3A champion Tomball (33-4) Friday at 4 p.m. at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, the home of the Texas Rangers' AAA affiliate.
The second game features Region IV champion Corpus Christi Moody (32-6-1) and Region II Champion Whitehouse (31-8), and is scheduled to start Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Both semifinals will air on the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, which is channel 888 on most TWC systems across Texas but is only available to TWC subscribers.
The Class 4A Championship game is Friday at 7 p.m. It will air on Fox Sports Southwest across most of Texas, and on FS Southwest Plus in South Texas because of a conflict with a WNBA game.
You can see all the highlights and post-game reaction from the Raiders on Newschannel 6!
Burkburnett baseball coach Mike Leach, Texoma's longest-tenured head coach at 17 years, will also retire this summer.
Leach made the playoffs nine times with the Bulldogs in his time.