GLEN ROSE — You could say Stephenville Yellow Jackets head baseball coach Justin Swenson was “expecting” a victory Thursday.
While the team was posting an important 3-1 District 7-4A baseball victory over Mineral Wells Thursday afternoon, Swenson was tending to something far more important. He was with his wife, who was in a hospital and on the verge of having a baby.
As of press time there was no word on whether it was a boy or a girl, and it’s unknown exactly when Swenson will be able to rejoin the team. In the meantime, assistant coach Trent Dunavant and the rest of the coaching staff are in charge as the 19-6-1 Jackets prepared to finish district play Friday night (April 26) at Glen Rose.
Thursday’s win — in a game that had been rained out Tuesday and Wednesday in Mineral Wells and moved to the artificial turf field in Glen Rose — improved the fourth-place Jackets to 3-4 in district.
Glen Rose is in second place at 5-2. Godley, currently third at 4-3, has to face district-leading Brownwood Friday.
The top four teams in each district advance to the playoffs, but this year there is a clear motivation for Stephenville and Godley to finish third instead of fourth. Wins Friday by both Stephenville and Brownwood would force a one-game district playoff next week between SHS and Godley for third place to avoid having to play No. 1-ranked Argyle (27-1-1) in the opening round of the playoffs.
“To have a chance for third place, we had to win this one,” Dunavant said after the Jackets topped the last-place Rams Thursday. “Kudos to our kids for doing what they needed to do to get the win.
“We helped them out early by hitting a lot of fly balls. If you’re patient, this game will reward you for doing the right things.”
Derek Gifford drove in two runs in the win over Mineral Wells and Gage Graham had one RBI. Teammate Trace Morrison was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double.
The Rams limited SHS to just four hits for the afternoon. Daniel Luna and Gage Graham came up with the other two hits for the Jackets.
Gifford was also the winning pitcher, starting and going 5-1/3 innings. He gave up one run on four hits, while striking out six and walking none.
Caleb Smith worked the final 1-2/3 innings on the mound and his pitching line was spotless — no hits and no walks.
Dunvant said that if the field in Stephenville ended up being still too muddy to play on Friday, the game against Glen Rose would be moved to Saturday, but the starting time for that scenario was not set as of press time.