A year after having its season cut drastically short, which followed three straight shorter-than-hoped-for playoff runs, Aledo baseball - the No. 7-ranked team in our 5A area power rankings - is in a groove.
It took a while for Aledo to get things going this year, though. It started 2-3 with its three losses coming to some of the best teams across the state in Mansfield Legacy, Fort Worth Nolan Catholic, and Dallas Jesuit. But after middling through the early portion of the season to a 7-5-2 record, Aledo essentially has flipped the switch on, going 10-2 since mid-March.
During that run, Aledo has soared to the top of the 5-5A district standings and are on the cusp of a district title with a win Friday night at home against Wichita Falls Rider, which it beat on Tuesday 5-2.
In that game, Tristan Thurman pitched a solid six innings, limiting Rider to just three hits and two earned runs while striking out six.
Three games remain on the schedule for Aledo, but a win Friday night over Rider would clinch the outright district title for the first time since 2013. Tuesday's game gave Aledo a one-game lead in the district standings over Rider and another win would sweep the season series over Rider, give Aledo a two-game cushion for the final two games and give Aledo the all-important tie-breaker in the event Aledo drops its final two and Rider wins out.
Winning district isn't the only goal, though. Aledo has higher aspirations - a state tournament run - despite a bit of a rough patch the last few playoff runs.
In 2019, Aledo were second in the district standings but were knocked out in two games of the playoff chase by Lubbock Monterey, which, as the third seed out of district 3-5A, made it all the way to the Regional Finals.
In 2018, Aledo got into the second round but fell to a stout Colleyville Heritage team.
Since making back-to-back State Tournament runs in 2014 and 2015 - winning it all in 2014 - Aledo has only made it to the third round once.
Still, with the way Aledo is playing in the last 12 games and rolling through its district opponents, there's a good chance Aledo is setting itself up for a deep run.
What's carried Aledo in this 12-game stretch has been strong pitching coupled with a powerful offense. In the first 14 games this year, Aledo was giving up 4.2 runs a game and scoring only 4.6 with the offense being shut out twice and the pitching staff only having two shutouts of its own
In the last 12 games, the offense has been red hot, scoring an average of 7.2 runs a game with no shutouts and the pitching staff holding teams to 2.3 runs per game, a nearly 2-run drop, with three shutouts to its credit.
To continue that 14 and 12-game split, the Aledo offense only scored in double figures once in the first 14 while having eclipsed the double-digit mark three times in the last 12.
The talent is there for Aledo. The last 12 games show it can be one of the best teams in the area and possibly the state. Getting the win Friday night would clear the first hurdle and set Aledo on its way.
Which team Aledo would possibly face in the first round of the playoffs is still wide open. Currently, it is a three-team race between Northwest, Lake Dallas and Colleyville Heritage in 6-5A for the final two playoff spots.
But first things first, Aledo's focus will be Friday night and clinching the 5-5A district crown.
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