As winter turns to spring and things “swing” into gear for baseball season, Southern Denton County should once again provide some of the strongest baseball talent in the state.
Long playoff runs and state championship appearances are becoming old hat for the likes of Argyle, Liberty Christian, Flower Mound, Guyer and Marcus high schools, and 2015 should prove no different.
The Flower Mound baseball team is coming off of an incredibly strong season in which it brought home a state championship, and Coach Danny Wallace said his team is looking to pick up right where it left off.
“We should have a strong season, but were in the deepest district in the state,” Wallace said. “It will be very competitive.”
Flower Mound went 34-11 overall last season en route to the school’s first ever state championship in the sport of baseball.
The Jaguars should be led by RHP/1B Sean Wymer (4-1, 1.93 ERA; .388, 20 RBI, two HR), C/2B Noah Hill, .308, 19 RBI; SS Casey Jacobsen, .286, 18 RBI; James Hannah, .282, 15 RBI and Skyler Cox, who hit .326 in his last 22 games of the season.
Wallace anticipates Marcus, just one of the two district teams to beat Flower Mound last season to be his team’s most difficult opponent this year, and said to enjoy the success it did last season, it would take a couple of things.
“We’ll have to stay healthy and improve each week,” Wallace said.
Surprisingly enough, Flower Mound was not the outright champion in district last season, but rather shared a piece of the title with their cross-town rival, Marcus.
The Marauders finished with a record of 32-10 on the season and return with some major firepower from last year’s program, both offensively and in their rotation.
Jack Cushing (8-1, 1.12 ERA) and Ethan Nichols (9-1, 1.21ERA) should lead the way on the mound for the Marauders this season, and District MVP 3B Brendon Venter (.378, 14 doubles) and RF Ashton Easley (.331, 27 SB) should be among the team leaders on offense.
To repeat upon the kind of success it enjoyed last season in its trip to the regional finals, it will take a strong effort from the senior-heavy Marcus line-up, which includes eight returning starters.
For the Guyer Wildcats baseball team, a trip to the area round last season has Johnny Kinzy’s team hungry for more this year.
Guyer finished 10-4 in district competition in the 2013-14 season and defeated Saginaw in the bi-district round before losing to Cleburne.
Kinzy said things are shaping up well early on this season.
“Scrimmages are going well,” Kinzy said. “Defense has been solid. Pitching has improved throughout the scrimmages. Hitting needs to improve to compete in 6A.”
Guyer will be led by 1B/P James Farris (.348, 10 doubles, 2 home runs and 14 RBI), SS Aaron Studdard (.323, four 2B, nine RBI), P Doug Palmer (2.44 ERA, 40 K’s) and Connor Herriage (.430, seven 2B, two 3B, and 23 RBI).
Guyer finished 17-12 overall last year and second in district. To have another season like last year, it begins with his hurlers, he added.
“(It) all starts with pitching,” Kinzy said. “Solid defense and timely hitting will help to get us where we want to be.”
For the Argyle baseball team, the Eagles advanced all the way to the state tournament last season, but came up just short, losing in the title game.
Coach Ricky Griffin said he is optimistic about this year’s team and echoed Kinzy’s sentiments about the keys to success.
“I feel really good about this team,” Griffin said. “Pitching will be the key to this team.”
Argyle finished 31-10-1 last season and should be led by all-state catcher Ryley Balch, CF Cutter McDonald and LHP Hunter Markwardt.
McDonald and Markwardt were both selected to the all-state tournament team.
Griffin said he anticipates Sanger and Celina as being his teams’ two toughest district opponents this season and added the objective for this year is to win a state championship.
Across town at Liberty Christian School, the Warriors were district co-champs in 2013-14 and eventually lost in the regional championship.
Coach Johnny Isom said things are shaping up well for this season. “The boys are off to a really good start,” Isom said. “There just has been a whole new mentality since the fall with this group of Warriors. They are hard-working, coachable and just a fun group to be around.”
Isom said he has a number of players he expects to lead the way for Liberty Christian this season.
“Our pitching staff will be led by senior left-handed pitcher (Texas Tech committee) Tyler Duck (35 IP, 41 K, 2.17 ERA 5W-1L),” Isom said. “We are also looking for big contributions from senior right-hander (Westmont College Signee) Grant Gardner. Grant has an A-plus fastball and commands his off-speed pitches. When he’s on, he’s as tough as they come.
“Offensively we will be led by Luke Chavez and Cole Blaylock. Both come into the 2015 season after having an extremely productive 2014 season for the Warriors. Outfielder, Luke Chavez hit at .452 clip (33 H, 2 HR,16 RBI) in 2014, and first baseman Cole Blaylock .389 clip (21 H, 2 HR, 16 RBI) in 2014.”
Isom said supporters should also keep an eye out for short stop Miller Peaden defensively.
In order to have another good run into the post-season in 2015, Isom said his team pretty much already possesses what it will need.
“I feel like with the way that this group is going about their business, the way they come to the ballpark each and every day ready to work and be coached, and the way they aren’t afraid to put the team in front of their own desires or needs, that it has already been a successful season and 2015,” Isom said. “This group will be a force in 2015.”