Monday, August 15, 2022

Area teams batter up

The Flower Mound Jaguars are swinging for the fences this season. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

“It’s fun; baseball is fun.”

When Yogi Berra uttered these immortal words, he was in the midst of a Hall of Fame career that included 13 World Series titles, three MVP awards and a place on Major League Baseball’s All-Century team.

So, it is no wonder that he would feel that way.

But, ask anyone who has ever played the game, no matter how old or how young— or who has stepped up to the plate, fielded a ground ball or deep fly or stretched a single into a double and the response is almost always the same.

It’s fun.

For the teams of southern Denton County, success on the diamond has become a way of life in recent years and it does not look like much will change in 2020.

Five of the six programs in the Region got a taste of the playoffs in 2019 and are ready for more this season.

“They are all good,” Marcus Coach Jeff Sherman said about the teams in his UIL district. “It’s baseball. Anybody can beat anyone on any given day.”

Marcus claimed a co-district Championship along with rival Flower Mound last year and return 16 players this year to a team that finished 28-8 and advanced to the regional quarterfinals.

Among their stronger returning players are: Hunter Teplansky (TCU); Sam Hunt (Texas Tech); Hunter Davis (Howard JC); Reed Gallant (Rice); and, and Collier Mershon (The Citadel).

Sherman said the formula for success in 2020 is pretty simple

“We have to stay focused on improving and playing as a team,” Sherman said. “We have great people, talent and coaches, but can we put it together when it counts?  They have worked really hard this offseason and losing to Southlake early (this season) has put some motivation in their bellies.”

Across town at Flower Mound High School, coach Danny Wallace said it is “way too early to know” how things are shaping up for 2020, but added his team is “healthy and working hard.”

The Jags return several key players from a team that reached the Regional finals and Wallace said it will take a few things for his team to pick up where it left off.

“We just need to stay healthy, improve offensively and get some breaks against all the great teams in Region 2,” Wallace said.

Key returning players include Cam Brown, Tyler Talbert, Will Miller, Austin Russell, Geoff Marlow, Weston Peninger and Jake Fuerst.

Flower Mound finished 32-14 overall last season with a 12-2 mark in district. Wallace said the objectives for 2020 are to, “improve during the season and be ready for the playoffs in May.”

Look for Marcus, Hebron and Coppell to be the Jaguars toughest district opponents.

For the Coram Deo baseball team, a 4-15-1 record in 2019 was not what the Lions were hoping for, but Coach Drew Lott said that things are looking up for 2020.

“CDA has scheduled an aggressive non-district schedule against quality opponents early in order to challenge ourselves and prepare for a run at our TAPPS District title,” Lott said. “We have three returning seniors and five returning juniors.”

Lott said the expectations for Coram Deo this season are to challenge for a district title and make it to the postseason and said in order to accomplish those goals, it will take a couple of things.

“We need to play sound fundamental baseball, throw strikes at a high percentage, and have quality at-bats,” Lott said. “We also need to stay healthy.”

Both programs in the town of Argyle had an unprecedented year in 2019 and while there are a lot of new faces, both schools should be just fine.

The Liberty Christian baseball team has enjoyed a tradition of excellence that most programs can only envy; and 2019 was certainly no exception.

The Warriors defeated Bishop Dunne, Trinity Christian, All Saints and St. Thomas to win a state title, finishing the season with a 26-13-1 overall record.

Liberty Christian lost eight starters from last year’s squad, but first-year Head Coach Billy Jordan said he has been impressed with what he has seen so far.

“It’s an exciting season, as there is a lot of new in the Warrior Baseball program,” Jordan said.

Look for Gabe Ramirez, Connor Jeffers and Cade Maclin to lead the way for the Warriors this season and expect All Saints and Midland Christian to be Liberty’s most difficult district opponents.

“I want this group to play like they’re defending state champions,” Jordan said. “Even though we lack some of the experience, we have really good players that are going to fill in. We play in a tough district, but I believe we will compete in every game with every team.”

Over at Argyle High School and, not to be outdone, the Eagles won a UIL State Championship in 2019.

Coach Billy Griffin said while his team has also experienced some turnover, he has a strong corps of players returning as well.

“Things are looking good,” Griffin said. “We’ve got some new faces with a lot of talent.”

Cade Merka (Texas A&M), Alex Gonzales (Baylor), Bo Hogeboom (Houston) and Tate Van Poppel (Midland College) will be among the team leaders for the Eagles this season.

Argyle finished 40-1-1 last year, and Griffin said to repeat upon the kind of success the team enjoyed in 2019, it will take the “same commitment” as last season.

Look for Decatur, Krum, Springtown and Bridgeport to be Argyle’s most difficult opponents in district.

Up the road at Guyer, the Wildcats are coming off a playoff season in 2019 and Coach Patrick Watson said his team appears to have tremendous depth.

“As far as this year goes, we are two-deep at each position in which both players could be starting at other high schools,” Watson said. “The pitchers have been good this year and that looks to be our strength.  In 32 scrimmage innings so far, we have given up four earned runs.”

Look for Luke Piper, Bristol Carson and Carson Ozmer to lead the way for the Wildcats this season.

Guyer finished 10-4 in district competition last season and lost in the bi-district round. Watson said there will be a few keys to his team getting back to the playoffs this season.

“Staying healthy and getting some breaks,” Watson said. “Our pitching will be our strength.”

Southlake Carroll and Keller will be Guyer’s toughest district opponents.

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