Last season, all but one area baseball team reached the playoffs in their respective classifications. But not only did they get to the postseason, they advanced, and three went deep.
Peaster made team history by reaching the Class 3A Region I final. Their District 7-3A rival Brock made it to the regional semifinals, and Aledo made it to the 5A Region I quarterfinals. Weatherford advanced to the second round in Class 6A, and Poolville made a return to the postseason in 2A.
This season, with each of those teams returning a host of starters, optimism is high for even more success in 2018.
▪ Coach: Chad Barry
▪ 2017 record: 28-11.
▪ Playoffs: 5A Region I quarterfinals.
▪ Returning starters: 7
▪ Key players: Senior shortstop Hunter Rosson (all-district, all-state), senior third baseman Vaughn Shields , senior catcher Gehrig Mosiello (all-district), senior leftfielder Caden Jarvis (all-district), sophomore centerfielder Garrison Berkley (all-district), sophomore right fielder Nathen Fingar (6-5A Newcomer of the Year), senior pitcher Steven Swift, senior relief pitcher Briley Rodriguez, junior catcher/pitcher/utility player Chance Roberts.
▪ Top intangibles, according to coach: Six returning position players returning from last season that played 39 games.
▪ Coach's thoughts on district/season: "District will be really tough. Eaton is the favorite. Azle, Brewer, Chisholm Trail, and Boswell will all field really strong ball clubs as well. Nobody has a gimme game. Our biggest question to answer this year is who will step up and fill pitching roles. We have two guys back that pitched consistently for us last season, but it will take some guys growing up and taking the next step of progression to go in and get people out.
▪ Coach: Jason Lee
▪ 2017 record: 19-16.
▪ Playoffs: 5A area round.
▪ Returning starters: 6.
▪ Key players: Senior centerfielder/pitcher Blake Burrows (5-3, 1 save, 1.70 ERA, .366 batting average, all-state, 3-6A Offensive MVP), senior pitcher Mason Hilton (4-6, 2.33 ERA, all-district), senior left fielder/third baseman James Moreno (.373 average, 15 RBI, all-district), senior shortstop/pitcher Chance Ragsdale (all-district), junior catcher Lukas Loran (.308 average, 18 RBI, 3-6A Newcomer of the Year), junior outfielder/pitcher Pierce Morris (2-1, 1 save, 1.77 ERA), senior third baseman/pitcher Hunter McMillin, senior pitcher Zach Swain.
▪ Top intangibles, according to coach: Experience, a couple of players from the 2016 regional quarterfinals team, and several that were on the team a year ago. Staying hungry for more.
▪ Coach's thoughts on district/season: "District 3-6A is going to be a very competitive district. Any team in this district can beat you at any time. Keller High has nine Starters returning and will be a very tough team to beat. Timber Creek has a great core group back that should make them very competitive. I feel our pitching and defense should be the strength of our team. I do feel we have some strong hitters returning and coming up but that is something we are going to have to prove we can do on a consistent basis. This team has had great leadership throughout the offseason, and I have been very pleased with their work ethic."
▪ Coach: Hart Hering.
▪ 2017 record: 29-6.
▪ Playoffs: 3A Region I semifinals.
▪ Returning starters: 6.
▪ Key players: Senior shortstop Cole Lightfoot (.402 average, 37 RBI, 21 stolen bases, 7-3A Offensive MVP, NCAA Division I signee with Stephen F. Austin), junior pitcher/outfielder Jase Lopez (11-2, 2.18 ERA, 114 strikeouts, 7-3A Pitcher MVP), senior second baseman Noah Nye (.360 average, .515 on-base percentage, 24 RBI, all-district), junior first baseman/pitcher Cooper Nelson (.521 on-base percentage, 2-0 1.55 ERA, all-district), senior catcher/third baseman Jackson Hardison (.247, 17 RBI, 2 home runs, all-district), junior outfielder Parker Bounds (all-district), senior pitcher/outfielder Joseph Gossett (all-district), junior pitcher/infielder Cooper Allen.
▪ Top intangibles, according to coach: Offense, with balance up and down the lineup, along with perennial team speed and athleticism. A small ball style that's been missing in recent years.
▪ Coach's thoughts on district/season: "This year we are more familiar with our district foes, and we will be a little more prepared for what each of them will throw at us game-to-game. Peaster is loaded with talent and they will find their way near the top of the district standings when it is all said and done. Breckenridge is a quality ball club that is well-coached and will be in every game they play. Tolar has some youth and will be competitive. Pitching and defense has carried us the past few seasons, and has allowed us to have back-to-back deep playoff runs. Our greatest strength with this year’s group will be the top-end arms that we return and the experience they bring to our pitching staff."
▪ Coach: Lynn Grimes
▪ 2017 record: 29-10.
▪ Playoffs: 3A Region I finals.
▪ Returning Starters: 7
▪ Key players: Senior second baseman/catcher Kelton Shook (all-district), senior pitcher/first baseman/shortstop Matthew Grimes (7-3A Utility MVP, all-state), senior pitcher/third baseman Evan Hafley (7-3A MVP, all-state), senior shortstop/pitcher Devin Alvey (all-district), senior catcher Preston Hardin (all-district), senior outfielder Trey Durham (all-district), sophomore outfielder Kooper Shook (all-district), junior first baseman/pitcher Cade Adams, senior outfielder Kason Fry, senior outfielder/pitcher Clayton Addison, freshman pitcher/third baseman/outfielder Joseph Grimes.
▪ Top intangibles, according to coach: Staying healthy and motivated.
▪ Coach's thoughts on district/season: "Very tough district as usual. Brock is picked to win the district. They will be loaded, and very hard to beat. As usual, the district should come down to the final games before being decided. Our team's greatest strength should be our experience and leadership. My main goal is for our players to give great effort and have a great attitude, the rest will take care of itself."
▪ Coach: Jon Lane
▪ 2017 record: 5-19
▪ Playoffs: None
▪ Returning starters: 8
▪ Key players: Senior pitcher/third base Matthew Bradshaw (All-District 7-3A), senior pitcher/designated hitter Spencer Auld, sophomore pitcher/first baseman Lane Brian (all-district), sophomore catcher Thomas Jordan (all-district), junior second baseman Payton Smith (all-district), sophomore third baseman/outfielder Colt Clifton, junior centerfelder Cameron Brian (all-district), junior left fielder Colton Cotton, sophomore pitcher/shortstop Zach Harris, junior pitcher/right fielder Damien Thomas.
▪ Top intangibles, according to coach: Team leadership and team chemistry.
▪ Coach's thoughts on district/season: "Strengths for us will be pitching depth and defensive experience in the Infield."
▪ Coach: Doug McCollough
▪ 2017 record: 14-10.
▪ Playoffs: 2A bidistrict.
▪ Returning starters: 6.
▪ Key players: Senior outfielder Chris Tunnell, junior third baseman.pitcher Christian (all-district, .384 batting average), junior infielder Logan Fowler, junior infielder Hunter Brown, sophomore outfielder Ethan McCain, sophomore infielder Parker Hawkins (all-district), freshman pitcher Trendan Parish.
▪ Coach's thoughts on district/season: "Christian Rushing will be a big part of our offense. It’s his turn to take the lead this year. Chris Tunnell has been an anchor to our outfield the last three years and we look for that to continue. The district will not be easy this year. Santo and Perrin will be tough teams to beat in the district. Poolville is picked to win it, but it will be a grind. Our pitching staff has a lot more depth this season. We will be young this season, but I really like where we are starting with this group. Several of these kids have been playing baseball a long time. Our Seniors last year got us back into the playoffs and now it’s up to these guys to continue the tradition."