All to play for again in race to Round Rock
WHILE THE calendar indicates spring break, the beginning of district play ensures that the county’s batters and pitchers won’t have much time to revel in the usual fun and hi-jinx with their peers this week.
Most of all, it means that all is forgiven when it comes to records. Everyone started the week at 0-0 as the next six weeks will determine which schools will have the chance to compete for the state title in Round Rock come early June.
The final non-district top-25 poll from website Houston 5a Baseball shows that both districts 24-6a and 23-5a will be competitive. The site ranked Clear Creek, picked to win 24-6a, at 15th leading into the Wildcats’ district opener against Clear Creek yesterday, Tuesday.
A tough schedule, which included the likes of Pearland, Deer Park, Alvin and Strake Jesuit, has strengthened Creek for the rugged road ahead, which includes games against Clear Falls on Friday and Brazoswood on Saturday.
Coach Brent Kunefke’s squad is getting a considerable share of offense from University Of Houston commit Landon Etzel, along with juniors Reed Hamilton and Jason Jaekel, who have combined to hit seven homers during the early portion of the season.
Pitching, the biggest issue the Wildcats faced as district play began, remains a work in progress.
It hasn’t been a problem for Clear Falls, however, as the Knights have used a strong rotation to rise to 18th in the rankings. Hurlers Danny Hecker, Cooper Markovchik and Graham Whittington have allowed their squad to stay in most contests and, while the team’s offense has been above average, the Knights will rely on their pitching staff to unseat Clear Creek atop the district standings.
Both Dickinson and Clear Springs missed the top-25 Houston 5a Baseball poll, although both the Gators and Chargers received votes. After years of struggle, the Dickinson program appears to be turning the corner and is emerging as a potential dark horse for its first trip to the postseason in recent memory.
The Clear Springs program, meanwhile, has used a productive offense to get itself upright after a slow start and is expected to begin living up to lofty preseason expectations.
Santa Fe, ranked ninth in Houston 5a Baseball’s 5a poll, entered district 23-5a play with a 7-7 record but the Indians are a work in progress as they have struggled offensively.
That’s despite the slugging efforts of senior Cody Plowman, who ranked among the Houston area leaders with five home runs before their game against Galveston Ball yesterday.
Coach Ronnie Wulf’s squad has succeeded with a solid pitching corps that sports a 2.48 team earned run average. Seniors Jacob Blankenship and Chase Daughtery have combined for four of the team’s wins and should be solid bets to help carry Santa Fe into the postseason once the Indians can ignite their offense.
Ball’s Tors, ranked 15th, have played at times as if they can be the team to push both Santa Fe and Fort Bend Ridge Point in 23-5a. All three teams are projected to make the playoffs, which would leave Texas City’s Stingarees, who opened district play against Elkins yesterday, to contend with Fort Bend Elkins and Fort Bend Marshall for the district’s final playoff berth.