After White Hall’s loss to Sheridan to close the regular season, White Hall head coach Skip Carr said it is difficult to get a read on his team sometimes because “they are not very emotional.”
After the 10-0 loss to the Yellowjackets on May 12, Carr said, “They are all up. They are just not a very loud group.
“But that’s fine. I don’t need that, I just need someone who can hit with runners in scoring position.”
Well, it would seem the Bulldogs (15-11) have been able to correct both problems as White Hall clinched the 5A state title appearance with a 4-3 win over conference rival Watson Chapel on Monday in the semifinals.
“I tried to get the kids relaxed in varsity games and I think they finally realized,” Carr said. “They got vocal, got excited and they keep the players up.
“They are keeping their heads up and trying to stay positive. And keep that good attitude.”
White Hall will face Pulaski Academy at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Carr said, for example, when a kid makes an out and nobody says anything, he feels like he let someone down.
“But now, people are patting that kid on the back and saying that’s OK, we will get it next time,” Carr said. “It is a better attitude and more of a team attitude. That somebody does care.”
Going into the tournament, White Hall has been labeled the underdog and many might have thought the Bulldogs would not have even gotten past the first round.
“Reading the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the day before, the article was about Little Rock Christian playing us and how good they had been,” Carr said. “They did have a good pitcher and he was hard to handle.
“But our kids competed and played really well.”
However, Carr said by reading that article, “You would have thought we were the underdogs.”
“We made sure the kids saw it too,” Carr said.
White Hall rallied from three runs down and scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Christian in the first round, 6-3.
“I think (being an underdog) probably took a little pressure off us,” Carr said. “The pressure was on the higher seed, starting with Little Rock Christian.
“We were the underdog. People were counting us out and not expecting us to do anything.
“We were just trying to prove them wrong.”
After a 5-2 win over Harrison, White Hall defeated Chapel — a team that had defeated the Bulldogs twice in the regular season — in the semifinals thanks to the strong pitching efforts of sophomore Cade Canada and junior Daniel Sprinkle.
“Canada was our plan all along,” Carr said. “We were hoping to get to the fifth with him. And we did.
“… He threw a good 4 1/3 innings and held Chapel, one of the best teams in the state, to just two hits. He was very effective that day.”
Canada allowed just two runs on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts in Monday’s win in Jacksonville.
“We should have beaten them both times,” Canada said on Monday. “We are a better team than them. I love the kids on that team, but we are a better team than them.
“We should have beat them all three times. We just let the first two slip through.”
Carr said it might have been a little bit different if the first two games had been blowout games.
“Both games were really close,” Carr said. “We could have won both games.
“Chapel just found a way to win those two games. They outplayed us those two game.
“But this game, our kids were determined not to be defeated.”
Carr, who has been the baseball coach for 16 years, said he was proud of his coaching staff and the school’s administration.
“Our assistant coaches have put in a lot of time and effort,” Carr said. “They have really helped us. We have some really good coaches.
“…The administration has backed us all year. They were always positive with me and that is a good feeling.”
John Gore, who is one of the volunteer assistant coaches, has been with Carr for all 16 years.
“Everybody’s ultimate goal is to get the state championship and to play in Baum Stadium,” Carr said. “It is something we have been working for all year and we never gave up.”