The Barnsdall Panthers baseball season ended with more of a whimper than the bang they had wanted.
Entering the district playoffs on Wednesday, the Panthers travelled to Woodland to face both the Cougars and the Rejoice Christian Eagles. Hopes were high among the Barnsdall faithful due to the fact that in the three previous meeting between the Panthers and the Cougars, the Panthers had led their opponents through the fifth-inning in every single game.
But before the Panthers could square-off against their long-time rivals, they first had to get past the Eagles. The Eagles were an unknown factor in the district pairings, since neither Woodland nor the Panthers had ever seen or played the private school.
“We overlooked them,” said Jason Cole, head coach for the Panthers. “Our kids were talking about how Copan had beaten them and we had beaten Copan, so it must mean that we would have the advantage. Never underestimate an opponent.”
But that’s just what the Panthers did, unfortunately.
The Eagles jumped to a quick lead that the Panthers could never erase. Trailing throughout the game, all the Panthers could do was to narrow the gap, but it would prove to not be enough.
Falling to the Eagles, the Panthers found themselves having to turn around and face the home team Cougars in the next game. This was a familiar foe to the Panthers. In three games the Panthers had beaten the Cougars once, but fell twice to them. In both losses to the Cougars, the Panthers had ample opportunities to win the game.
“We need to learn how to win,” said Cole. “When you’re ahead by four or five runs and give them all away in one bad inning you’re not going to win many games.”
Brian Edwards, head coach for the Woodland Cougars, voiced his opinions about the district pairings.
“We knew that we were all very evenly matched,” said Edwards. “It could have gone any way for either team.”
In their final meeting for the year the Cougars had the last word. Jumping to a 3-0 lead in the first inning the boys from Barnsdall felt really good about their chances, but then the Panther’s offense stalled.
The Panthers stranded eight runners in scoring position during their game.
The Cougars managed to score a run in the third, fourth and fifth innings to tie the score at three-all in the sixth inning. With two runners on base, the Cougars launched a three-run homerun blast that barely cleared the left-field fence to jump to a 3-6 lead over the Panthers.
“It was just about a foot over my hand,” said senior Colten Tisdale. “If I could have just jumped a little higher I could have had it.”
That shot proved to be the season ender for the Panthers. Losing their second game of the day proved to be a disappointing ending for a hopeful season.
“We are so much better than what our record shows,” said sophomore Caleb Hawes. “We’ve had too many chances to win that we just let slip through our fingers. We are not a bad team, we just have to learn to quit making mistakes.”