POTTSBORO — The Cardinals have been blessed with pitching depth throughout the season. In the postseason, thanks to juniors Colby Langford and Cooper Lyons, Pottsboro hasn’t needed to use it.
The duo have helped power the way to three consecutive sweeps — allowing eight runs in six outings and no more than two in any game — as Pottsboro (23-5) faces White Oak (27-7) in a Class 3A Region II semifinal series at Paris Chisum. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Games 2 and 3 are at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The winner will face either Edgewood or Beckville in the region final next week.
“There’s a huge difference between me and Lanky,” Lyons said. “He’s more powerful with his fastball. I’m more using my off-speed stuff. We have a great defense and I know we’re going to do work.”
Pottsboro, which hadn’t been past the second round in four seasons, is attempting to make the region final for the first time since 2015.
“The way we work, we come together as a group,” Langford said. “We vibe off each other and everybody has a good vibe.”
Pairing that effort on the mound with some timely hitting has led to the team winning 19 of its last 21 games, dropping only a non-district doubleheader against 4A Melissa in a playoff warm-up during that span.
“Knock on wood, we’ve played good defense too,” Pottsboro head coach Bart Williams said. “You’re going to win district championships and playoff games if you don’t make mistakes and throw strikes. That’s what we try to do.”
The Cardinals are coming off a sweep of Grand Saline, taking the opener, 6-2, before closing things out with a 3-2 victory.
Langford got it started in Game 1, allowing an earned run on three hits with eight strikeouts and three walks and was backed by a six-run sixth inning. Will Cates was 3-for-4 with two RBI, Hunter Watson was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and drove in a run and Hayden Kent doubled, walked twice and scored.
Then Lyons took the mound in Game 2, allowing two runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and a walk before Watson got the final two outs for the save. The Cardinals were down 2-1 before tying the game in the fifth and going ahead in the sixth. Lyons was 2-for-3 and drove in a run.
“This group likes to play. They like each other and that’s not always the case with teams,” Williams said. “You have distractions. You have adversity. We find a way to keep going.”
White Oak, which lost in the bi-district round a year ago to Troup, has also swept its way to the third round as well. Last weekend the Roughnecks took out Hughes Springs, 7-0 and 9-7.
In the opener, White Oak got a two-hit shutout by Elijah Trest, who struck out 10 and walked three, while Dalton Sumrow was 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and scored, Heath Hood homered and drove in three runs and Layton Anderson doubled and scored.
After scoring eight runs in the first inning of Game 2, White Oak had to hang on to avoid going to a Game 3. Anderson doubled and drove in four, Kason Kienzie and Jacob Young each went 2-for-4, drove in a run and scored and Trest doubled, drove in a run and scored.
Trest has signed with Arkansas. He missed most of his junior year because of injury but has been at the forefront of White Oak’s playoff push this spring.
“He’s pretty dominating. He’s a heck of a player,” Williams said. “When he’s on the mound they have a lot of confidence and they should.”
The Roughnecks, who were the runner-up to Beckville in District 16-3A, opened the postseason by beating Troup, 9-5 and 5-4, and then eliminated Queen City, 10-0 in five innings and 4-2.
It is the second time in three years that White Oak, in the playoffs for the 11th straight spring, has reached the region semifinals and is trying to make the region final for the first time since 2010, when it made the second of back-to-back state tournament appearances.
“I know when I hear about them, they expect to win when they walk out on the field,” Williams said. “That kinda sounds a lot like us.”