For a third consecutive season, the Nazareth Swifts will grace the presence of Dell Diamond in Round Rock to play in the UIL Class 1A state baseball tournament when Nazareth faces Fayetteville in a state semifinal at noon on Wednesday.
The Swifts (18-4) have become veterans at the state tournament over the past three years. Nazareth was a semifinalist in 2021, then the program won its first game in Round Rock a year ago before falling to D’Hanis in the state title.
“The experience of being there before helps a lot,” said Tyler Goodwin, who is 39-6 in two seasons as the Nazareth baseball coach. “These guys have been down there the last two years and I think anytime you say you’ve been there twice and have the veterans we have I think we have a chance to be successful.”
This Nazareth team is eager to put their name on the wall among the many titles from the tradition rich town by finishing their story and bringing home the school’s first baseball championship. Behind seven senior leaders of Tell Bagley, Tanner Birkenfeld, Bradyn Bullard, Carson Heiman, Brett Heitschmidt, Luke Schulte, and Sterl Welps, the confidence behind being in the big moment is sky high.
“The last two years has been fun making it,” Welps said. “But now that we’ve been the Region I champions and been down there before we want to go win it all.”
Teammate and catcher Luke Schulte agreed with Welps’ comments.
“The experience helps a lot,” Schulte said. “I think we’ve been building, and we’ve grown a lot. We just want to go down there, and play are game and do what we do best.”
In three games at state over the past two years, the Swifts have only scored one run and that was in a 1-0 shutout victory against Kennard in a semifinal last season.
However, this Swifts offense is as potent as they’ve had going to Round Rock. Through six playoff games, the Nazareth offense is putting up 11 runs a contest.
“The pitching staff is able to handle anything, and the defense has led to our success,” Goodwin said. “I think our hitters are key this year. We’re seeing the ball very well.”
Heiman, the ace pitcher and shortstop on the Swifts, echoed his coaches’ comment.
“We throw strikes and play defense,” Heiman said. “Our hitting has been spectacular. We haven’t been able to do that, and we want to show how great we can hit the ball. If we put the ball in play we can make things happen.”
Fayetteville (19-6) is a very familiar opponent for Nazareth. This is the Lions ninth trip to the state tournament and the third since 2021. In fact, Fayetteville beat the Swifts 4-0 on the way to the programs third state championship two years ago.
“I watched Fayetteville last week,” Goodwin said. “Like always, they are a really good baseball team. They make plays, throw strikes, and make you beat them. If we show up and do what we have been doing, we have every reason to win.”