For the Alice Lady Coyotes, the state playoffs are an opportunity to wipe their slate clean and start anew.
Forget their rollercoaster 6-6 run through District 31-4A. The Lady Coyotes are 0-0 in the playoffs, and Alice coach April Atterberry is hoping the fresh start allows her team to begin the postseason on the right foot.
"We're ready to put the past behind us," she said. "This season was a rough ride."
Alice begins the Class 4A playoffs with a best-of-three series against District 32-4A runner-up Mercedes.
Game 1 of the series is at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mercedes. Game 2 is at noon Saturday at Alice High School. If needed, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes afterwards.
The Lady Coyotes, who reached the third-round of the postseason in 2010, hit a few rough patches during District 31-4A season this season.
They began district with three-straight losses, but rebounded to win six of their next nine to claim third place in the final 31-4A standings.
Corpus Christi Moody and Tuloso-Midway were first and second respectively.
Mercedes, who finished only a game behind 32-4A champion Edcouch-Elsa this season, poses a stern challenge for Alice, Atterberry said.
"It really doesn't matter who we're playing in the playoffs," she said. "We have to come to play and take care of business. We have to play well to beat Mercedes."
Alice wrapped up the regular season with a 6-1 win against Kingsville last Monday.
The two weeks between the Kingsville game and now was helpful, Atterberry said, but it was still two weeks of down time. She said that could hamper the Lady Coyotes, who probably played their most complete game of the season against Kingsville. Another factor in the playoff series is the day-time heat, which is forecasted to be around the 100-degree mark at noon Saturday.
"We spent a lot of time just trying to get used to playing in the heat," Atterberry said. "That's going to be hard on everyone."
Alice's strength going into the postseason is its hitting. Led by sophomore third baseman Lexie Villarreal, the Lady Coyotes have four players batting at least .400 through the regular season.
Villarreal has a batting average of .562. Leandra Trigo has an average of .471 and four home runs. Ariana Munoz is batting .467 and Micaela Valadez is batting .400.
The Lady Coyotes are relying on the pitching of Selina Moreida and Zalysa Perez, who struggled at times this season after stellar seasons in 2010. Moreida was 3-5 through district and Perez was 2-2.
Class 4A Bi-District Playoffs
Alice vs. Mercedes
Alice @ Mercedes, 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29
Mercedes @ Alice, noon Saturday, April 30
Game 3 (if necessary)
Mercedes @ Alice, 30 minutes after Game 2