Lindale Success: It's The Hat

There's no way to say it nicely.  Lindale pitcher Carson Middleton has the ugliest cap in baseball.

"It's filthy," laughed teammate Drew Cole.

It looks like he has spent the last two years dragging the hat through the dirt. As it turns out, he has.

"He just takes the hat off and rubs it in the dirt," explained Cole.

"This year, it started off clean," explained Middleton, "and then I played bad two games in a row or something, so I went to first base and dirtied it up and I ended up playing like the game of my life.  I'm just superstitious."

And apparently,  he's not alone.

"You should walk in our dressing room," said head coach Robbie Surratt, "because some of these guys haven't washed their socks since we started the playoffs."

"B.J. Johnson will wear the dirtiest socks you've ever seen in your life," Middleton said, "just stink up the locker room, just because he says he played good last game."  Then, with a sly smile he added, "Some games I kind of hope he plays bad and changes socks."

"It's a baseball player thing," explained Cole.  "You don't want to wash the luck away."

The superstition doesn't stop with clothes. Middleton says he refuses to step on a crack on game days, and the night before every game, the entire team spends the night at his house.

"We'll sleep in the same spot in my house," said Middleton, "We'll do everything the same. Aaron Neely's Mom will make cookies. I think we're tired of cookies, but she still makes them because we're superstitous."

So far, it has seemed to work. Lindale is 29-6 on the season, and have advanced to the regional finals for the second straight year. But don't confuse superstition with loyalty. After Carson lost his first ever post season game two weeks ago, the white cap was replaced with his blue one.

"Oh, his blue cap is just as dirty as the white one," Surratt was quick to point out, "it just doesn't show it quite as well."

He'll probably be sticking with the blue cap.  He struck out a career high 19 batters in it, while leading the Eagles to an 8-1 win over Van Alstyne in the regional semifinals.  That's fine with Coach Surratt.

"Whatever a young man thinks is going to improve his game, whether I think it does or not, I'm willing to go along with that," Surratt said.  "If not stepping on cracks on the floor, or getting your hat dirty, whatever it takes, then that's what we need to do."

Lindale opens their regional finals series with Liberty-Eylau Thursday night at 8:00 at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant.  Game two is scheduled for Friday at 8:00.  Game three, if needed, will be Saturday at 2:00.

Kevin Berns reporting.