Northside streaks into the playoffs

Published 10:03 pm Friday, May 9, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
YEATESVILLE — When the Northside baseball team leaves for its two-and-one-half hour trip to Midway High School today it will be taking five seniors, two teams and one bus with no talking.
Whether the Panthers head back to Yeatesville with a win or a loss all depends on which team steps off the bus.
It has been a tale of two teams this year for Northside. When they get hot, the Panthers are capable of playing with the best in the area, as evident by their 5-2 win over the Atlantic Conference champion Williamston Tigers.
When they are cold, they crumble. Players step up to the plate with 35-ounce Eastons that feel like 35-pound sledgehammers, while in the field, defensive miscues can become as contagious as chicken pox.
The Panthers are a gritty, quirky team led by seniors Colby Mason (OF), William Rushton (P/SS), Aaron McKinney (P/3B), Ethan Coltrain (1B, DH) and Sonny Robbins (C/2B), and are the type of crew that if they begin to heat up, can burn right through the playoffs.
McKinney said it has been all or nothing for Northside this season.
Robbins agreed.
Coltrain said the determining factor for the Panthers is practice.
The good news for Panthers’ fans is that the seniors said they have put forth a strong effort in practice, and head coach Keith Boyd agreed.
The Panthers (13-8, 8-6), who placed second in the Atlantic Conference, will begin their 1-A playoff push on the road today against Midway. Most teams feel they are at a disadvantage on the road, but not the Panthers.
The Northside seniors said they feel more focused away from home, and a big reason for that is Boyd’s strict no-talking policy on bus trips.
It may sound over the top, but the seniors said they prefer the silent treatment because it mentally prepares them to play ball.
McKinney also said that road trips improve his focus.
Boyd said he prefers the silence not to be a strict disciplinarian, but because he genuinely believes it improves the team’s odds for winning.
Home or away, it’s playoff time, and the seniors said that is all the incentive they need to get focused.
Whenever that day comes today, or in a few weeks from now, Boyd said it has been a pleasure to work with his seniors, and praised their effort to improve themselves.