The Grapevine baseball team is riding high after its first ever state championship in 2016, and pitching ace Connor Neuman said the objective for this season is pretty straightforward.
“My goal is for this team to go back to back,” Neuman said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Neuman was the MVP of the state tournament last season and earned the win against San Antonio Alamo Heights in the state championship game.
“Winning state last year was a dream come true,” Neuman said. “It has given me many opportunities that I never thought were possible. Now I just want to get the people who didn’t get a ring last year one.”
Coach Steve Hutcherson said that Neuman is a special athlete and said one of the greatest benefits of having him on the Grapevine baseball team is that he has rubbed off on his teammates.
“He brings a competitiveness unlike just about any high school kid I’ve ever coached,” Hutcherson said. “The great part is that his competitiveness has now been spread throughout the team.”
Hutcherson said that one thing in particular makes Neuman an extra-talented pitcher.
“His ability to throw any pitch in any count in any situation,” Hutcherson said. “Not many 17-year-olds can throw a [full-count] curve ball with the bases loaded for a strike to get out of an inning. But Connor can do it.”
The Mustangs were 9-5-1 through their first 15 games of the season, and Neuman said he expects thing to get even better for his team.
“This season has been different,” Neuman said. “We haven’t gotten off to as fast a start as last year, but it’s going to come around. The seniors are going to step up.”
Neuman said that he wants to continue to hone his leadership skills this season, and said to have another long run in the playoffs and shot at a state title, it will take a true team effort.
“We are going to have to have a very selfless approach to the game,” Neuman said. “Whatever it takes to wins is going to be what it takes to make it back to state.”
Hutcherson said he will need Neuman’s leadership to make another run at a state title, and said there is no doubt in his mind that he will get just that.
“We will rely on him a bunch,” Hutcherson said. “And the great thing about Connor is that he is his own biggest critic. He is hard on himself, way harder than coaches would or could ever be. Now he just needs to learn how to use that perfectionist mentality to make all 30 guys on our roster better, because they are trying to do the same.”
Neuman will play baseball for Louisiana Tech University next school year.