ARLINGTON, Texas -- Typically, a district baseball championship is won on the arm of a dominant pitching ace or the hot bat of a great hitter.
That’s not the case with District 4-5A champion and ESPNHS Fab 50 No. 12 Arlington Martin.
The Warriors have five batters hitting over the .400 mark and have split their wins among eight different pitchers.
“This team is not a team that has a superstar,” Martin coach Curt Culbertson said. “That’s what makes this team the type of good and competitive team it is. It’s a team that competes and that doesn’t quit. They just go.”
The senior-heavy Martin pitching staff came into the season with a chip on its shoulder after a below-par year last season and has created a kind of fight that's resonated throughout the team, Culbertson said.
The proof is in the Warriors’ 13 come-from-behind wins out of their 27 victories.
At the plate, Martin is no underdog.
At the team’s home field, players muscle hits into a fierce south wind that knocks down fly balls. Instead of that being a drawback, Culbertson believes it can have a positive psychological effect on his players when they find themselves in a stadium with the wind at their back.
They might get a taste of that this weekend out on the West Texas plains, taking on Odessa in the bi-district round at Abilene's Hardin-Simmons University.
Beyond the first round lies a tough region that includes the likes of Mansfield, Colleyville Heritage, Plano and Southlake Carroll.
But it’s the South Texas teams that have dominated in the state tournament the past decade.
Corpus Christi Carroll’s Class 5A championship last season continued a streak that began in 2002 of schools from the Corpus Christi or Houston area bringing home a state title in either 4A or 5A. This season, both Corpus Christi Carroll and Calallen enter the playoffs in the top 11 of the Fab 50 and are poised to continue the streak.
A Dallas-area team has not won a 4A or 5A state championship in baseball since Plano West’s 5A victory over Southlake Carroll in 2008.
Culbertson said it’s tough for the North Texas teams that cancel each other out in the early rounds of the playoffs, but the team that separates itself as the best DFW has to offer sure has a good chance of breaking the Metroplex skid.
“All these guys around here believe some of the best baseball is here in North Texas. Once we get [deep in the playoffs], we’ll deal with that out there,” Culbertson said.