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SL Carroll #1 in Texas

March 24, 2014
Carroll Athletic Booster Club

Southlake Carroll, No. 1 in the 5A state baseball rankings, has championship aspirations — and pitching
By Matt Wixon
1:43 pm on March 20, 2014 

Teams from the Dallas-Fort Worth area have only won one 5A baseball title in the last 19 seasons. That winner came in 2008, when Plano West had perhaps the best hitting lineup I’ve ever seen in high school.

But it’s often the teams with deepest pitching staffs that go the deepest in the playoffs. With that in mind, Southlake Carroll is certainly one of the favorites to ease the DFW championship drought.

Carroll is 17-1 and ranked No. 1 in the state, a spot that is usually held for a team from the Houston area. The Dragons are certainly scoring some runs, with an average of nine per game in their last five games. But pitching is what stands out.

Ben Leeper, a junior who is orally committed to Stanford, is 5-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Senior Joe Heineman, who signed with Arkansas-Little Rock, is 4-0 with an 0.58 ERA. And Carroll has three other pitchers — Kevin Cramer, Garrett Hale and Dylan Smith — who have allowed a combined eight earned runs in 48 1/3 innings.

A coach with five dependable pitchers is usually a happy coach in the playoffs. That’s especially true in a deciding Game 3 of a best-of-3 series, when depleted pitching staffs can lead to some wild games.

Deep pitching usually outlasts big hitting, although that 2008 Plano West team was a notable exception. It beat Carroll in the championship game, 10-8.

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