Before Ryan’s baseball team stepped onto the field for Thursday’s practice, coach Bret Warnack called one of the players into his office.
The two looked at Warnack’s computer and dissected the player’s batting technique frame by frame before the two headed for the dugout.
The goal for Warnack’s squad hasn’t changed over the last few weeks. The Raiders are hoping the pursuit of that goal will lift the Raiders from the bottom of the District 5-5A standings.
Ryan will try to pick up its first district win tonight when it travels to Lewisville. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Our focus right now as a team is the same it’s been the last few weeks — to improve and get better,” Warnack said. “We’ve got to get better offensively. That’s something we’ve really focused on. I think a lot of other parts of the game will come hand-in-hand with that.”
The Raiders (2-16-2, 0-3 district) came close to picking up that vital victory Tuesday at home against Lewisville. The Fighting Farmers (13-7, 1-2) led Ryan by one run in the bottom of the seventh before junior Ryan Burks tied the game with an RBI single and forced extra innings.
But the visiting team picked up a 7-4 victory in nine innings for its first district win, at Ryan’s expense.
Warnack said he was happy with the way his team battled back in the contest and in the ninth inning, when the Raiders plated a run and got a couple of runners on base before Lewisville finished them off.
“We had a lot of bad things happen at that game,” Warnack said. “But at the same time, we battled back in the seventh and tied the ballgame up and gave ourselves a chance to win in extra innings at home. It didn’t work out for us, obviously, but there were some good things to take away from it.”
One good thing was Burks’ at-bat, which kept the Raiders in contention. Warnack said that once the Raiders get a little confidence at the plate, they’ll relax and other parts of the game will become easier.
“When you’re having trouble scoring runs, you tend to press defensively because you know every run that you give up is pretty critical,” Warnack said. “Consequently, you end up making more mistakes because you’re playing pretty tight.”
The four runs Ryan scored against Lewisville were the most Ryan has scored in three district games. The Raiders will have another crack to get the offense going and attempt to move up the district standings.
“If we can continue to progress offensively and start swinging the bats a little better, I think a lot of the other things will work out,” Warnack said.
Lake Dallas faces big test
Lake Dallas coach John Tompkins said today’s game against Wichita Falls isn’t a make-or-break contest for a team coming off a tough loss to a rival. But Tompkins also acknowledged he’d like a win against the Coyotes.
The Falcons will cap a difficult stretch of their schedule at 5 p.m. today when they host one of the teams with a spotless district record.
“It’d be nice to sneak a win from the team that’s favored to win the district,” Tompkins said. “But we’ve got to win the games we’re supposed to win. We’re just trying to get a young group of kids in the playoffs. That’s what our goal is.”
The number of teams undefeated in District 5-4A play dwindled to two after Guyer defeated the Falcons 5-4 on Tuesday. Tompkins said his squad beat itself with poor execution at the plate. Lake Dallas (10-10, 3-1) also committed three errors.
The Lake Dallas head coach said a win against the Coyotes (4-0 in district) could give his team some momentum going into next week, but he wasn’t too concerned about his team showing up ready to play either way.
“Even after we got beat the other day, they showed up with a great attitude at practice and just went to work,” Tompkins said. “They love baseball and they love being around each other. It makes my job easy.”
Sanger game moved
Sanger’s District 9-3A opener at Gainesville has been moved up to 6 p.m. today, Sanger coach Steve Ford said Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the week, the game had been moved from 7:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. But Ford said the game had been pushed back to 6 p.m.
The Indians (10-6-1) are coming off an 8-3 loss to Argyle in their final nondistrict game before 9-3A play.
Denton chasing consistency
At times during Denton’s season, different aspects of the game have looked promising for the Broncos. But the times when Denton’s offense, defense and pitching are simultaneously clicking have been sparse.
The Broncos (3-13, 0-4 District 5-4A) will try to get those aspects of the game working in unison when they face Azle (1-3 in district) at 7:30 tonight at Bronco Field.
“We’re good at two,” Denton coach Glen Harrison said, “and then one part of our game — whether it’s offensively, defensively or pitching — we’re either slow at the start or we’re not very good at one of those three. It hurts us. We haven’t put together all three phases in a while.”
With the exception of Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to Fort Worth Brewer, when the Broncos allowed six runs in the first inning, Harrison said his team has been in every district contest.
In the first two games of district play, Denton couldn’t get its offense going. In the last two contests, the pitching staff has faltered at key times. Harrison, like Tompkins, said that eight district wins should ensure a team a playoff berth.
But Harrison acknowledged his team needs a couple of wins to avoid a large amount of pressure to rack up wins during the second half of district play, which begins in three games.
“If we don’t get these next few games,” Harrison said, “then we’re looking at starting the second round [of district play] having to run the table, and that’s pretty difficult.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.