HS Baseball Playoffs: Brutal Area Round Leaves Willis as the Last Team from 13-6A

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 05/13/2024


WILLIS, TX -- Despite all four playoff-eligible teams from 13-6A winning their Bi-District matchups, only the Willis Wildkats escaped an Area Round that claimed the other three teams.

After their losses, the playoff hopes of the Oak Ridge War Eagles, Grand Oaks Grizzlies, and Woodlands Highlanders were put to rest. Two games for the Grizzlies and three games for the War Eagles and Highlanders were enough to finish off the talented 13-6A squads and send them into their offseasons.

But for the Wildkats, their journey as district runners-up continues following their two-game sweep over the Klein Collins Tigers.

Game one had to be postponed due to inclement weather, but a doubleheader on Friday was all Willis needed to diapatch their opponents.

A slow, defensive battle defined game one’s start, with the Wildkats taking a one-run cushion into the bottom of the fifth inning. Austin Gaskins’ hard work on the mound was rewarded when the Wildkat bats woke up in the bottom of the fifth, with the squad bringing in three runs.

The dead-silent offense from the Tigers meant no amount of production during the final inning and a half would have given the team enough momentum to complete a comeback. A 4-0 Willis win gave the team a series lead and momentum going into the immediately following game two.

The Willis lineup remained almost the same as game one, but the presence of Maddox Keo on the mound for the Wildkats was a welcome sight for a team wanting to finish the series.

Similar to Gaskins’ work in game one, Keo kept the Klein Collins bats in check throughout the game. Four walks were the only way the Tigers got on base, as Keo managed to throw a seven-inning no-hitter while picking up nine strikeouts.

With the defense muting the Tigers from end-to-end, the Willis batters had the luxury of gradually building momentum before striking to take the win.

Runs during the top of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings gave the Wildkats another 4-0 lead that proved insurmountable. No signs of an offense and timely scoring from Willis sealed the series as a two-game sweep for the Wildkats.

Willis’ success against the grain of 13-6A’s losses in the Area Round sets the team up with a matchup against the indomitable Tomball Cougars.

Both teams have faced one another during the tournament season before district play. In their early season meeting, Tomball took an impressive 11-1 victory over the Wildkats during the Ferrell Classic on their way to finishing the season 29-3.

Tomball’s dominance during the regular season has given the squad a top 10 ranking nationally according to MaxPreps, and their warpath has continued into the playoffs. Clean sweeps in the Bi-District and Area rounds, including over Grand Oaks, have kept the team in tip-top shape ahead of their date with Willis.

But the Cougars may not be as impossible to beat as they may seem. A loss to College Park shows the team’s potential to lose to squads from 13-6A, and a Willis team trending upward may be able to knock off the third-ranked team in the state.

Game one is set for Thursday at Tomball High School at 7:00, where a tension-filled atmosphere is sure to build.

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