Lee Yeager’s inaugural season operating Grapevine’s baseball program could be considered business as usual.
A traditional baseball power under Tim McCune for more than 20 years, the Mustangs missed the postseason in 2014. However, Yeager’s arrival restored stability and a return to the postseason.
Grapevine (18-4-1, 7-1 in District 6-5A) has already clinched a playoff berth. Now it’s about playing for the district championship. The Mustangs played at Fort Worth Carter-Riverside on Tuesday, a game they were heavily favored to win. But Friday’s home meeting with Birdville is likely going to decide the district championship. Birdville also entered the week with one loss.
Before this season began, there were several questions Yeager and his staff had to answer. While there is still some maneuvering left to do – baseball is always like that – Yeager believes he has his pitching resolved.
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David Ash had been one of the most experienced players returning from 2014 and emerged as one of the 2015 team’s top starters. Sophomore right-hander Connor Neuman has done some closing and starting. Yeager has also turned to senior right-hander Nick Evarts, who also plays shortstop.
“We still have been feeling some things out, but we feel pretty good about where we are and what we want to do for the rest of the season,” Yeager said. “Pitching was a weakness of ours going in, because we didn’t have a lot of experience and we didn’t have overpowering arms. They’ll get their share of strikeouts but they pitch to contact. The guys have done a great job of putting things together.”
The defense rests; offensive thievery
Grapevine’s return to success can be attributed to its defense. Yeager said his it has been exceptional throughout the season. The middle of the infield has been steady between Evarts and second baseman Tony Lima.
The corner infielders have been solidified between senior Josh Slezak at first and senior Dan McIntire at third. The outfield has found some quality play with junior Kyle Flamm in center field (he plays left when Neuman is not pitching and is in center field). Senior Beau Busing is in right field.
Meanwhile, the Mustangs offense hasn’t relied on power to provide the runs. This team has hit only five home runs. However, this lineup has hit close to .300 and has stolen nearly 100 bases.
“We’re a gap-to-gap team,” he said. “But it comes down to the guys buying into the philosophy. When we do that, we’ll be pretty good. We played a tough schedule, so I can’t complain about what’s happened.”
Colleyville Heritage update
The Panthers (6-13, 2-5 in District 7-6A) have gone through their share of ups and downs. But the reality is clear. Colleyville Heritage is in danger of not making the postseason for the first time in head coach Alan McDougal’s nine seasons.
This team, which has struggled offensively, has to find a way to put past frustrations behind and make a strong push if it wants to go nine-for-nine. The Panthers played Carroll on Monday and then had a home-and-home with Coppell this week.