Making history on the diamond field, the Mustangs won the Elite Eight Class AAAAA State playoff against the Buford Wolves at the end of Game Three with a score of 8-3 on Thursday, May 9. On Wednesday, the Mustangs won Game One, 5-2, and lost Game Two, 3-1, which led to a tiebreaker game.
“There’s no words. We’ve never been, so to beat that team right there is awesome. They’re good. They’re probably the top two team in the state and we beat them,” Michael Edwards, head coach, said.
Last year, the Mustangs lost in both doubleheader games to the Wolves 6-2 and 10-2, only causing the Mustangs to fight harder to win the playoff this year.
“We came together more as a unit than we were last year. We had a lot of cliques last year and this year we gelled better together as a unit,” Edwards said.
During the doubleheader, the Mustangs kept up the momentum as points were put on the board, which transferred into Game Three. With the win and loss from Games One and Two, the team was ready to play their best.
“[We had to] Play our game one pitch at a time like we always have preached and we just keep reaching the same thing going forward,” Edwards said.
Getting closer to Game Three, players and coaches got into a winning mindset.
“I felt confident. We had all the arms we needed. We just had to go out, make plays and get a few runs and I felt confident in our pitching staff that we were going to be able to do this,” Austin Smith, assistant coach, said.
During the fifth inning, the game reached a turning point when Patrick Holloman, junior, hit a homerun.
“I felt on top of the world. Our team being down 0-1 and come back and hitting a bomb just boosted our whole energy and everything,” Holloman said.
Because of the momentum hanging on the homerun, the Mustangs scored six points in the seventh inning, which led to a score of 8-3.
“I felt good. I knew we had [Cameron] Land coming in and I knew he was going to fill his own
up and I told him, ‘Just go out there and get three outs. Don’t let the situation be bigger than it is,’ and he did that,” Smith said.
Cameron Land, senior, pitched in the last inning and knew what he had to do.
“I was excited. I was glad that we had a really big lead and I was just ready to close out the game and I knew that I was going to be on the bottom of the dog pile, so I was ready for that,” Land said.
Being the pitcher to end the game along with having teammates keeping up their energy helped Land hold down the Wolves.
“It was a little bit more intense or a little bit more, like, anxious to finish the game and everything, but overall it’s just same intensity as yesterday…That was the best we’ve played all year and that’s the first time our team has ever come back like that in such a good baseball game with such a good team,” Land said.
One of the most important reasons that the team did so well is that the coaches always remained collected. From last week’s Sweet Sixteen game to the Elite Eight game, Edwards stayed by his motto about emotions staying neutral.
“If I don’t, everybody else is going to feed off of what the coaches do. The coaches got to stay poised and keep their demeanor about them. These guys are going to feed. We were upbeat the whole game and they won it. Hats off to our guys. They played a heck of a game,” Edwards said.
The Mustang’s determination going into the Final Four is stronger than ever after beating the Wolves.
“I was feeling great. It’s hard to come back from five in the bottom of an inning, but we pretty much knew we had it in the bag,” Holloman said.
To be prepared for the Decatur Bulldogs, the Mustangs will continue their routine.
“We’re going to keep doing the same thing, what we have always been doing. We’re not changing [anything],” Edwards said.
Because the Mustangs knew they wanted to make history, the Ola community joined together to cheer them on.
“I’m so freaking happy for our students and our student body, our administrators, coaches and most of all our players. They deserve this and everything that they’ve worked for they got tonight and I’m just happy for them,” Smith said.
At the end of the game, friends and family rushed on the field after the team dog piled each other.
“At the beginning, I was really nervous…but then we got all of those scores in one inning…and I was so happy. The stands were going crazy and everyone was jumping up and down and everyone was so excited,” Jillian Scarbrough, junior, said.
The Mustangs will be back in action on Tuesday, May 14 as they face the Bulldogs in the Final Four State playoffs at Decatur High School. Game One will begin at 4:30pm and Game Two will begin at 7:00pm
Updates on the Mustangs can be found on Twitter at @olabaseball.
This story was originally published on Hoof Print on May 10, 2019.