Coppell head baseball coach Ryan Howard likes the roll that his Cowboys are currently on.
After starting District 6-6A play with splits of three straight two-game series against Plano, Plano West and current district leader Marcus, the Cowboys responded with sweeps against Hebron and Lewisville.
Led by another outstanding pitching performance by senior right-hander Will Rodman, the Cowboys defeated Plano East, 9-0, on Saturday afternoon for their sixth straight district win. And, because of the win, Coppell (22-7-1 overall, 9-3 district) has clinched a playoff berth.
Rodman was sharp from the get-go, needing just 82 pitches to get through a complete-game shut-out – 10th straight that Coppell has allowed three or fewer runs. He struck out four and allowed three hits. Two of those hits came when the Panthers mounted their biggest offensive charge.
With Coppell holding a 4-0 lead, Jake Jennings and Colton Shaw hit back-to-back singles to lead off the top of the fourth and put runners on base with no outs. But, Rodman threw the necessary pitches, and the defense backed him with a double play and a ground-out to thwart the rally.
“We’re pitching very well right now and our defense isn’t giving the offense very much right now,” Howard said. “Our defense and our pitching is what we pride ourselves on, and our offense is starting to come around a little bit. If we can get those bats hot at the right time, we’ll be an exciting team.”
A three-run bottom of the second was all of the offense that Coppell needed. Sophomore catcher Bradley Castillo had the biggest blow, a two-run double that put the Cowboys ahead, 2-0. Junior Ryan Fields, who courtesy ran for Castillo, scored on a steal of home for a three-run advantage.
“Bradley has been a guy that has been very consistent for us in putting the bat on the ball,” Howard said. “He’s not going to drive the ball out of the yard. But when guys are on base, you know that you’re going to get the barrel on the ball. He hits the ball well to all parts of the field and has come up big for us multiple times this year.”
Coppell senior Chayton Krauss went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI to finish the two-game series 5-for-6 at the plate. Castillo and sophomore Tanner Sever added two hits apiece.
Saturday’s win for Coppell at Cowboy Field leaves the Cowboys alone in second place in the district standings – two games ahead of third-place Flower Mound (7-5 district) and just one game behind Marcus (10-2).
Coppell can still catch Marcus for first place. In order for that to happen, the Cowboys would need to sweep the Jaguars and for the Marauders to lose both games this week to Plano East.
“Seeding is important, but to me, more important is playing well at this point in the season,” Howard said. “I’m happy that we’ve put ourselves in a position to be able to get into the playoffs, but more importantly for the team and for me, is to be playing our best ball.”
Coppell will certainly have its hands full this week against a solid Flower Mound program, Howard said. Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. game will be played at Coppell ISD Complex, while the Jaguars are scheduled to host Friday’s 7 p.m. tilt.
“Really well-coached team,” Howard said of Flower Mound. “They have a championship-winning coach. It’s a state-championship program. They do everything the right way. They’ve been able to pitch well for almost a decade now. They’ve got some really good arms. It should be a good series. I’m confident in our guys. It should be a good match-up.”