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Bulldogs face tough playoff task in undefeated Friendswood

NEDERLAND — The Nederland High School baseball team survived to play another series. Earning the fourth seed in District 21-5A, the Bulldogs were able to navigate the logjam to nab the final seed in the district.

Their reward for working through the muck is a matchup against the No. 1 team in Texas.

Nederland will play Friendswood in a series that begins Friday at Nederland High School. Saturday’s matchup will be played at Friendswood followed by a third game if necessary.

“We are happy our kids have an opportunity to play another week,” Nederland head coach Bryan Spell said. “We have a great challenge ahead of us. Our district is very competitive, but 22-5A is also very competitive. They have some really good teams that are not getting to play another week. That is a testament to the quality of baseball they are playing over there. They are 24-0 and the No. 1 team in the state.”

While the Nederland players are aware of the level of difficulty of their next game, they know anything is possible.

“If feels good to get that playoff spot, and to have another chance to spend a week together is always good,” Nederland’s Corbin Chandler said. “We are looking forward to it. It is either live or go home, and we are trying live another week.”

Senior shortstop Wade Butler said the team must come together to pull off the upset.

“We are going to have to play as a team, have solid defense and somehow string together some hits,” Butler said.

Spell said his senior group includes many high-character players.

“To have the opportunity to be with them one more week and work with them is exciting for me,” he said. “I hope it is exciting for them. I’m happy that they earned the right to be a playoff team. That is something that they will remember growing up. Hopefully, we can add a few more memories.”

Chandler said the team’s defense has been the lynchpin for the Bulldogs.

“We have had some underclassmen step up,” he said. “We played defense great all year long. Every now and then, we will have some guys get hot at the plate.”

Friendswood dominated the competition this year with a 24-0 record and outscored opponents 181-37.

“They are pretty solid all the way around,” Spell said. “They have about three really, really high quality arms that we have heard of. I am sure they have some more that haven’t thrown in a while because of district. They have a shortstop that we saw as a freshman. He was good as a freshman. He committed to A&M, but I don’t think the Aggies will never see him. I think he is projected to be drafted pretty high. He is a pretty talented hitter and a pretty good specimen.”

For the Bulldogs to win, the Nederland defense is going to have to be stingy, Spell said.

“If we get an opportunity to make an out, we have got to take advantage,” he said. “We can’t give them extra outs. They do a really good job of taking advantage of your mistakes. We are going to have to be at the top of our game for sure.”