Chaz Salter, senior, strikes the ball during the second inning. Mustangs advanced to the Elite Eight after both double header wins. (Bronlyn Holland)
Chaz Salter, senior, strikes the ball during the second inning. Mustangs advanced to the Elite Eight after both double header wins.

Bronlyn Holland

Sweeping McIntosh one strike at a time

The Mustangs advance to the Elite Eight once again.

May 4, 2019

Sweeping the McIntosh Chiefs four times this season, the Mustangs advanced to the Elite Eight after a double header game of 7-2 and 5-1 on Thursday, May 2.

Bronlyn Holland
Sterling Richardson, senior, pitches during the first inning. Richardson pitched for the first five innings of the first game.

“It’s good to win against the same team over and over again. It provides confidence. We always go into a game with a chip on our shoulder. You have to know you’re the best to play the best you can,” Sterling Richardson, senior, said.

For any team, winning against a team four times in a season is an accomplishment.

“It feels pretty good. I feel like last season we had a pretty good shot but everyone has matured since then, so we’re ready for the final, so we’re going to beat Buford as hard as we can,” Garrett Carter, sophomore, said.

The first game started fast pace by the Mustangs putting points on the board and keeping the Chiefs scoreless. McIntosh remained scoreless for five straight innings and only kept the energy in the dugout vibrant.

“You want to keep pressing the gas pedal…You can’t have let down innings, so we’ve been preaching ‘You can’t have a lulle. You gotta play one pitch at a time,’ so hopefully we take that into the next series, because as we move on into the playoffs it becomes more and more important to keep pressing,” Kyle McCreary, assistant coach, said.

If we don’t keep our composure no matter what happens, then the wheels could fall off,”

— Michael Edwards

The Mustangs also kept the Chiefs scoreless for the first four innings in the second game, which showed the energy never dwindled from the first game.

“As coach you have to keep your emotions in check…Players feed off the coaches and they’re going to respond how we respond and if we don’t keep our composure no matter what happens, then the wheels could fall off,” Michael Edwards, head coach, said.

To get the ball rolling, Richardson pitched for five innings in the first game and kept his mindset in the game because of Austin Smith, assistant coach, and Edwards.

“He [Smith] really came out and said ‘You’re making really good pitches. You’re not getting the calls but just keep throwing strikes. You’re not hurt, nothing’s bad. You’re doing well,’ and when Edwards came out and told me I was off the mound, I gave the ball to Cameron and knew he was going to come in and finish it off and do the job,” Richardson said.

Bronlyn Holland
Mustangs gather for a prayer before the game. Throughout the season, the players prayed together before every game.

Last year, the Mustangs played against the Buford Wolves in the Elite Eight, but the season ended after the double header loss of 6-2 and 10-2.This year is no other and the Mustangs’ mindset is ready to face them again.

“We aren’t going to do anything different than what we normally do. We’re going to control what we can control…Come Wednesday we’re going to roll the balls out there and give it our best effort like we have all year,” Edwards said. 

Even though the Mustangs won games to reach the Elite Eight, there are other factors that got them to this level.

“Probably teamwork. Last year we had a couple of cliques on the team and this year we’ve bonded all together and we’re all a group now,” Carter said.

With the State playoffs being double header games, the Mustangs try to keep their head in the game, especially the first game.

Bronlyn Holland
Garrett Carter, sophomore, and Baylen Sanders, junior, fist pump each other during the transition of innings. Carter enjoyed the camaraderie of the team this season.

“You want to win the first game that way you set the tone for the next game, so you come out aggressive the second game knowing you have nothing to lose,” Richardson said.

The Mustangs will be back in action on Wednesday, May 8 for the double header game against the Wolves. First pitch of game one is at four o’clock and first pitch of game two is at seven o’clock.

Students can participate in the “Elite Eight Tailgate” starting at 3:20pm on the Hill and $10 tickets will be sold during all lunches, which includes a BBQ dinner and entry fee into the game.

Updates on the Mustangs can be found on Twitter at @olabaseball.

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