SEMINOLE — After graduating six seniors who made significant contributions to last year’s district title, Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox knew he would have to employ some different tactics.
To stay on top in the new Class 6A, District 10, the Mustangs could no longer slug their way to victories. Instead, they would have to do the little things, such as play small ball.
Mitchell (17-10) put it all on display in the second inning of Friday’s title game with sacrifice bunts and flyouts, manufacturing just enough runs to repeat as district champions, 2-1 over host Osceola.
“We didn’t have as much of the power and pure hitters that we’ve been blessed with in the past,” Wilcox said. “We were a little more young and inexperienced coming into the season. It’s a challenge and we’ve had to work on taking care of all the small details. But the guys have accepted their roles.”
In the second inning, Mitchell’s Mike Freeman led off with a single. Three of the next four batters reached safely on bunts, including one by Kamren Powers that brought home Freeman for a 1-0 lead.
Alex Mendez followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Josh Lamb for what tuned out to be the winning run.
“We expect some of that small ball out of the bottom half of our lineup,” Wilcox said. “We use some bunts and a lot of hit-and-runs. That’s our style, and the guys aren’t upset anymore about going in there and laying down a bunt.”
In the third inning, the Warriors (20-7) scored as AJ Rivera walked, moved to third on a single by Joey Coca and came home on Abbi Jimenez’s sacrifice fly.
But Osceola had just three hits. Mitchell’s pitchers — Kyle Blakeney, Tyler Vanderveer and Ryan Slaughter — confounded Warrior batters with a steady diet of offspeed pitches from a variety of angles.
“The art of pitching is to keep batters off balance,” Osceola coach Stefan Futch said. “Mitchell did a great job by using some different arms and giving us some different looks.
“Bottom line is they outhit us, especially with two outs. It felt like we were in quicksand all night.”