Less than 15 months ago, COVID-19 and the pandemic that it brought with it ruined the spring sport seasons all across the nation. As scientists and medical professionals studied and learned more about the virus, and regulations and guidelines were put into place, the sports world started to find a state of normalcy.
Two local baseball teams have, obviously, made the most of being back on the diamond this spring as Liberty-Eylau and Pleasant Grove have met back up in the regional championship series for Region II-4A. Only eight teams remain alive in the 4A state playoffs, with this week's winner advancing to next week's UIL state semifinals in Austin, and a quarter of those eight are Texarkana, Texas schools.
It's not unprecedented for district teams to clash in the postseason. It happens quite often in the regional quarterfinal round, and I even remember Pleasant Grove playing Pittsburg for the regional championships in baseball and football a couple of different times.
For two teams from the same city to meet for a regional title is almost unheard of.
I consider myself a sports purist. I believe collegiate sports are often better than pros because those players have more to play for, in my opinion. Likewise, high school sports can be, and often is, more entertaining to watch than college level.
As one team must win, and one must lose, both PG and L-E should be praised and highly regarded by all Texarkana baseball fans for what they have accomplished. I have seen these young men play, and I know how much work, time and effort they put in day in and day out. I also count members of both coaching staffs as friends.
A look around the state, the Region III-4A title will be settled between Bellville (28-8-1) and Rusk (26-7) on Wednesday on a single-elimination game. Corpus Christi Calallen (29-3-1) and Sinton (32-4) also will play for the Region IV-4A championship in a winner-takes-all game tonight.
The Region I-4A championship, like the Region II final between the Hawks and Leopards, will be a best-of-3 series. Competing in the Region I final are Argyle (29-9) and Stephenville (26-8-1) with those teams also starting Wednesday.
The 4A state semifinals are Wednesday, June 9 at 1 and 4 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Stadium, and the championship game will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m. back at the University of Texas' home baseball field.
This week's Region II-4A finals series between the Leopards and Hawks will likely be one that goes down as a classic, based on the history of these teams and how well they've been playing this postseason. After missing all of last postseason, these two squads are truly making the most out of this one.