AUSTIN - Finally, the Follett Panthers get their chance this morning to make history.
Because of rain Wednesday that pushed back the original schedule, Follett had to wait until today for its attempt to end the 33-year drought of no state baseball titles won by Amarillo-area public schools.
Follett plays for the 2004 UIL Class A state title against Shiner at 8 a.m. at Dell Diamond.
The Class 1A final game was initially scheduled for Thursday morning at Disch-Falk Field. However, heavy rains Wednesday afternoon and evening forced postponement of the Shiner-Maud Class 1A semifinal.
Shiner and Maud played Thursday morning, with Shiner winning 8-7 after trailing 5-0 in the second inning.
Shiner returns to the state championship game for second time in three years. Shiner won the 2002 Class 1A state title but missed the playoffs last year.
Follett coach Rob Buffa, who has the Panthers in their first state championship baseball game, praised Shiner for the comeback.
"That team is competitive," Buffa said.
"They came from way back when everything was against them. They never quit."
Follett got in its semifinal Wednesday before the rains hit, beating Pineland West Sabine 1-0 behind a one-hitter by senior pitcher Jared Robertson.
Robertson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing a two-out, ground-ball single.
For the Title
The game: Follett Panthers (23-3) vs. Shiner Comanches (22-9) in the UIL 2004 Texas Class 1A state championship baseball game, 8 a.m. today at Dell Diamond.
"If we play as well as we did in the semifinals, I think we will be in good shape," Buffa said. "We made the plays and gained a lot of confidence."
Shiner senior catcher Brady Strauss, who had three hits and a RBI in Thursday's 8-7 win, had a different view from Buffa.
"We saw about three innings of Follett's (semifinal) game," Strauss said. "We definitely will hammer them. They didn't really do all that much."
This morning's pitching matchup is scheduled to be a pair of righthanders, Follett senior Cody Freeman (10-0) vs. Shiner junior Scott Shimek (8-2).
Shimek pitched the final inning of Shiner's Thursday win. Shimek's scoreless inning included two walks, no hits and two strikeouts.
Freeman hasn't lost all season.
"We have all the confidence in the world when Freeman pitches," Buffa said. "He isn't the strikeout guy that Robertson is, but he throws a real heavy ball. He has pitched so well for us in the playoffs."
Buffa said Robertson will be available if needed. Robertson threw 74 pitches Wednesday against West Sabine and, thanks to the rainout, enjoyed a day of rest.
Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker said his team is hungry after falling short of the playoffs last year.
"Follett was good," said Boedeker, who saw the Panthers' semifinal game. "Their pitcher (Robertson) did a good job. They are a real scrappy ball club. It's going to be a battle for us.
"Having been here before, I think, helps some. It's an exciting experience every time. Your emotions are high. Your adrenalin is high. Everybody is excited."
Follett will attempt to become the first public school team from the Amarillo area since 1971 to win a state baseball championship. Teams in the Amarillo area playing for a state title since the UIL started the tournament in 1949:
Year Team Class Result 1953 Amarillo High One Class Runner-up 1966 Dumas 3A Runner-up 1970 Dumas 3A Runner-up 1971 Dumas 3A State champion 2004 Follett 1A TBD