Baseball notes: Sunset close to ending drought

Dallas Sunset’s baseball season is shaping up to be one that has been 18 years in the making.

Sunset (13-10, 5-4 in District 9-5A) is enjoying its first winning season since 2005. With five games remaining, Sunset also sits in fourth place in district, owns the tiebreaker over Richardson and is staring at its first playoff appearance since 1994.

What has accounted for the turnaround from a 9-18 season in 2011?

Coach Dorman Pryor believes it’s the leadership of his seniors, who from the beginning bought into a program that needed to be rebuilt.

“We’ve had some kids that have been committed to the program,” Pryor said. “I’ve got three seniors that have totally committed and do a great job, and it filters down.”

On the diamond, Pryor is one of the few coaches who have seen an advantage in the first season of “deader” BBCOR bats.

His program has traditionally been based on a small-ball philosophy, keying in on his team’s lack of size. Now, he can use the majority of his lineup to bunt for hits or move runners over with years of experience under his players' belts. Combine that manufacturing with a few scrappy singles hitters and the outcome is a winning record.

“We don’t have any power but we have a lot of kids that can hit the baseball,” Pryor said. “We’ve got what we call the midget mafia -- a ton of kids that are barely 5-foot-2 and they are leading the team in hitting and RBIs.”

The road to the playoffs is still an uphill climb for Sunset, which must again face Lake Highlands, W.T. White and Jesuit. All have beaten Sunset the first time around this year.

“There’s a whole lot of baseball left,” Pryor said. “We’re just praying it works out in our favor.”

Coppell, Lake Highlands have new managers

Two traditionally strong baseball programs, Coppell and Lake Highlands, have new faces trading lineups before games.

Coppell is in the hunt for one of the last two playoff positions under Kendall Clark as district play begins to wind down, hoping to avenge an area-round in 2011.

The Cowboys sit in a three-way District 7-4A tie at 6-4 with Keller and Denton Guyer.

At Lake Highlands, Cory Tucker came into the season with big shoes to fill in replacing the legendary Jay Higgins, who had a 44-year career with the Wildcats.

So far, Tucker has the Wildcats in second place in District 9-5A with a 14-9 overall record.

Lake Highlands' only district losses came against W.T White, whom the Wildcats have also beaten this season, and district-leading Dallas Jesuit. The Wildcats will face Jesuit again Tuesday.