Lone Grove baseball focused on task at hand during Class 3A Regionals
It’s not surprising to see celebration if a squad pulls off the rare accomplishment of a perfect regular season. However, that jubilation can sometimes carry on too long and result in a letdown during the postseason.
The Lone Grove baseball team doesn’t plan on letting that happen though, as the Longhorns are focused on what’s in front of them during Class 3A Regionals.
“They were fired up on the way home after going up there and competing and beating Carl Albert (on Friday),” said Lone Grove head coach Tyler Pybas. “They were excited about that, but we have seven seniors who realize that we have a lot of unfinished business. We can’t worry about the past — whether we were 33-0 or 0-33, we have to focus on right now, and how can we control right now? When you do that, you don’t worry about what’s happened to you in the past.
“You try to play every day like it’s the first game of the season, have that excitement like it’s opening day,” Pybas continued. “If you have that mindset where you’re going to compete at a high level with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and be the best teammate possible, you have as good a chance as anybody.”
The odds are also in the Longhorns’ favor as they’ll host a regional for the first time during Pybas’ five years at the helm. That journey begins against Perry at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 6 and both squads enter the contest with momentum.
Lone Grove has obviously won 33 straight, while the Maroons finished the regular season with three straight victories for an overall record of 18-17.
The winner advances to a matchup against Valliant or Washington at 4 p.m. Thursday. Valliant went 18-19 this season, while No. 2-seeded Washington finished at 20-11.
“At this time of year, everybody is good,” Pybas said. “There’s no weaknesses anymore, so we’re going to have to go out and just play our game — one pitch at a time, one inning and one game at a time. We’re going to have to play our game at a high level to advance. It’s going to be a tough regional. All those teams can play.”
The Longhorns don’t have to look far to see that, as Perry notched a 2-1 win over Class 5A Guthrie on May 3. Guthrie isn’t a top-ranked team, but finished 17-11 overall and 10-3 in District 5A-2.
And Lone Grove knows how beneficial it is to play a top-tier team before the postseason, highlighted by a 3-0 victory over one on April 30.
“Carl Albert is a powerhouse in 5A — they’re going to expose your weaknesses and that’s kind of why I scheduled it,” Pybas said. “To kind of see what we needed to work on this week at practice. We were fortunate enough to battle, grind it out and have really good pitching and find a way to score three runs. It was a win-win, no matter what happened in that game.”
But at the end of the day, this group of Longhorns know what it takes to battle and stay competitive. They’ve played on the diamond since they were young, continued pursuing their passion in junior high and now they’re looking to complete the journey with a storybook ending.
“They just enjoy being around each other and they have fun playing baseball,” Pybas said. “That’s the big deal, they play with confidence and have fun while they’re doing it. They’re really good teammates to one another. When someone might mess up or what not, they try to bail each other out. When you have a group that’s looking out for others instead of yourself, that’s when you have a chance to be pretty good.”