The Arlington Lamar baseball team was down early, but not down about it. Cameron Badillo showed off the Vikings’ mental toughness by swatting a two-strike, two-run single to forge a 2-2 tie with North Crowley in the bottom of the second inning.
The senior third baseman’s clutch hit set the tone for a 7-3 Lamar victory against North Crowley on March 21 that improved the Vikings’ District 4-6A record to 3-0. After missing the playoffs in 2016, Lamar players are finding success this season by taking a more positive approach to the ups and downs in a game.
“It was a great job by Cameron stepping up, battling,” Lamar coach Paul Kino said. “It was a two-strike count. He ended up singling up the middle, scoring two runs.”
Last year we had a sour taste in our mouth that we didn’t go to the playoffs. So this year, we’re trying to.
- Lamar first baseman Jose Gutierrez
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Badillo, who finished with three RBIs on the evening, said Lamar has found a winning formula and just needs to stick with it.
“We’re pretty confident,” Badillo said. “We just need to keep on doing what we’ve been doing the past three games and just go up there and hit and play good defense.”
Against North Crowley, Lamar played solid defense and then took advantage of a few Panthers miscues in the field. And when the Vikings make mistakes, they’re not dwelling on those negative plays, said junior first baseman Jose Gutierrez.
“This year we’re really focused on being a fighting team,” said Gutierrez, who was first team all-district as a sophomore. “We want to focus on, if we go down, not to bring our mentality down, not to bring our game down. I think that helped us a lot with coming back with those couple errors that they had.”
Vikings senior Kie Lancaster was unfazed by North Crowley’s two early runs. He settled into a rhythm and pitched a seven-inning complete game. Lancaster needed just 96 pitches to secure the victory.
“He threw a great ball game, kept us in it,” Kino said. “I just think our kids battled.”
Even though it’s a relatively young team, the Vikings have the chemistry and poise of a veteran squad, said Gutierrez, who knocked in one of the runs against North Crowley.
“Personally, I think it’s our chemistry,” Gutierrez said, assessing Lamar’s top strength. “Last year we had a sour taste in our mouth that we didn’t go to the playoffs. So this year, we’re trying to. Last year was up and down, all district.”
Gutierrez realizes district is a long haul. In fact, the Vikings’ reward for beating North Crowley on a Tuesday at home was to turn the page and prepare to face that same Panthers team three days later at North Crowley’s field. In 4-6A, each team plays the other teams twice. The schedule for this season places both games against an opponent on the same week.
“We’re not going to let this get to our heads,” Gutierrez said of the home win against North Crowley. “It’s a fresh start. Once you get towards Friday, we’re going to try our hardest to come out on top.”
The Vikings are out to prove each game and each week that they’re battle-ready. “That’s what we’ve been preaching — battle,” Kino said. “Pitch to contact. Don’t walk anybody. Make the routine plays. And battle all the way.”
Arlington Bowie cleaned up in the end-of-year honors in District 4-6A, as sophomore Malay McQueen was named district MVP, senior Cierra Morris was Defensive MVP and Kelly Carruthers was Coach of the Year.
In addition, Jasmyne Robinson was named to the first team and Kamaya Miller to the second team.
Martin and Arlington won superlatives as well, with Lady Colts freshman Tierney Cole named Newcomer and Lady Warriors senior Tiara Malone the Offensive MVP.
Arlington also had Rachel Tippens on the first team and Nicole Salser on the second team. Martin’s Tatum Henderson was named to the first team, and Jayla Davis and Hillary Smith made the second team.
Lamar had Desteny Thurman and Ariel Williams named to the first team and Pam Byrd, Kaylyn Cunningham and Jermica Harris named to the second team.
In District 9-5A, Seguin’s Timia Jefferson was named the Sophomore MVP and Sumaiyah Abdur-Rahim and Trinitee Cannon made the first team.
Martin and Bowie dominated the boys superlatives, with Martin coach Clint Schnell named Coach of the Year and Jalen Petillo named Defensive MVP, while Bowie’s Cade Cunningham was Newcomer of the Year and Kyler Edwards was Offensive MVP.
Martin also had Jay’len Wilson named to the first team and Nick Gardner and Deaven Stovall on the second team. Bowie’s Richard Robinson made the first team and Donovan Davenport made the second team.
Sam Houston’s Mataio Irving made the first team, and Lamar’s Cecil Roberts and Arlington’s Jevon Maclin were named to the second team.
In 9-5A, Seguin cleaned up. Peter Abbott was Coach of the Year, Kannon Jones was MVP and Albert Davis was Sophomore MVP. On the first team were Jonathan Bierman and Trey Davis, and Gray Allison and Landon Black made the second team.
Stephen English: firstname.lastname@example.org, @sbenglish74