PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

April 24, 2014

Lady Bulldogs geared up to meet Lady Broncos

NEDERLAND — The Nederland Lady Bulldogs expected to be right where they are after the District 20-4A season.

Nederland did have hopes of a district title but making the playoffs was the top goal. The Lady Bulldogs begin their playoff run tonight against the Dayton Lady Broncos at 7 p.m. at Dayton High School.

Game 2 of the series will be at Nederland starting at 1 p.m. Saturday with Game 3, if necessary, to follow.

Nederland comes into the game with a 19-8 record and finished third in 20-4A at 11-3. The Lady Broncos were 13-3 in 19-4A play and finished in second place. Nederland defeated Dayton 2-1 earlier this season at the Willis Tournament. Kelsey Beard hit a two-run homer in the game.

Lady Bulldogs coach Will Mallett knows any trip through the playoffs out of Region III is always going to be tough. There are seven teams out of Region III ranked in the top 25 of the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll.

“Dayton is one of the most solid teams we have seen all year,” Mallett said. “They are very well coached and have two top-notch pitchers. In this region there are not many easy games to go around. You really would hope to catch a team like Dayton in the second or third round. Whoever gets through this series is going to have a great stepping stone to build on and it also means there will be a pretty good team sitting at home after the first round.”

Nederland’s success has in no way shocked Mallett. His Lady Bulldogs are supposed to be this good every year.

Nederland bats .362 as a team and has scored 211 runs. The Lady Bulldogs really love extra base hits with 51 doubles, 14 triples and six homers. The team’s 2.45 ERA is also not too shabby considering the quality of teams Nederland faces night-in, night-out in 20-4A.

“District 20-4A was a tale of two different beasts this year,” Mallett said. “There, of course, are those games against the playoff teams like Vidor, LC-M and Lumberton which are grueling. Then PN-G and Livingston were also quality teams. We also had some games against some other teams that are not as demanding and it always seemed to fall in between each other. We never really got on a roll this year.”

What has been a pleasant surprise for Mallett has been watching a number of players step into leadership roles throughout the season.

“You can never have too many leaders on a team,” Mallett said. “We have had great leadership when we were facing adversity. A few of the players who did step up maybe were out of their comfort zone but they knew it was best for the team.”

The main factor for Nederland’s success was not a surprise to the second-year Nederland coach and it always seemed to come when the Lady Bulldogs were in a jam.

“All year long when our backs have been against the wall, this team has come out fighting,” Mallett said. “We have even had a situation or two with umpires when calls just were not going our way. That would get me fired up on the field and the team always responded. They would come up with a timely hit and take the game out of the umpire’s hands. I love seeing that. That means we are on the same page as a team.”

Just like last year against Montgomery, Nederland hopes having Games 2 and 3 at home will be the difference in the series.

“I love being at home,” Mallett said. “The crowd will be line outside the outfield fence and they will be grilling up some food. It is just a comfortable environment to play in. We will be able to relax and do what we now we are capable of doing and that is moving on to the next round.”

The Nederland/Dayton winner will advance to face the winner of Montgomery and Georgetown.

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