WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - The Iowa Park baseball team has carried some of the highest expectations in Texoma this season.
After reaching the regional finals a year ago, the Hawks have wanted a chance to redeem themselves and they say that experience is helping them stay locked in this year.
“The greatest teacher of all is experience and our kids know that," Iowa Park head coach Michael Swenson said. "In order to get where you want to go, you can’t look ahead. You do that by staying focused and staying on the task at hand and just going pitch by pitch, not game by game but pitch by pitch and inning by inning and at the end of the game, you’ve done everything you can and you can rest with the result.”
“I think it was very humbling,” Iowa Park senior shortstop Kase Johnson said. “I think it makes us work even harder to get to that next step and actually make it to that state tournament, so I think it will help.”
On top of making a deep run last season, Iowa Park played some of the top teams in the state in their non-district slate including number one Argyle, who the Hawks could face in the regional final.
And it’s facing that top-of the line pitching and hitting that has the Hawks prepared for another deep run.
<"I think it helps us out a lot because playing them and getting to see what they do," Iowa Park junior first baseman Trent Green said. “Just getting better competition is helping us playing these better teams and being more experienced.”
But it all boils down to pitching and the Hawks know their staff, which hasn’t allowed more than two runs in over two months, will put them in a position to win.
“Well that’s the backbone of anyone that advances because every team that is still here is a good baseball team," coach Swenson said. "There’s nobody that has gotten lucky. If you are still playing, you are playing for a reason and it all starts on the mound.
"Every team that is playing has got a guy that they feel confident in when they run out there that they have a chance to win, if not two.”
Coach Swenson believes Iowa Park has three quality starters that could be aces on most teams and it’s that confidence in their pitching that fuels the rest of the team.
“It definitely makes us very confident," Johnson said. "We know that we don’t have to score very many runs a game to have a chance to win.”
“It’s a great feeling," Green said. "We know that even if we make mistakes in the field that they can strike the next dude out, so it’s a great feeling.”
Iowa Park will have to get through Decatur to keep their hopes alive.
This is only the 9th time these teams have faced in school history.
First pitch for game one is 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Bowie.
Game 2: 30 minutes after
Game 3: TBD