Tejay Antone was only at Weatherford College for one season, but the right-handed pitcher from Mansfield Legacy left quite a legacy.
A couple weekends ago, Antone became the highest draft pick ever from the Coyotes when he was taken in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Reds with the 155th overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.
"I've already signed; I'm in Arizona, and I'm about to start my new life," said Antone via phone.
Antone posted a 7-6 record with a 2.88 ERA for the Coyotes this past season after transferring from TCU, where he was a bullpen pitcher. He also set a WC school record with a conference-leading 99 strikeouts and a league-leading 84 and 1/3 innings pitched.
Antone's pitching repertoire includes a 95-mph fastball, a cutter and changeup that are in the 80s, and a curve in the 70s.
Antone said his total signing package is about $350,000, including funding for future education.
"Tejay has put in a ton of time and effort to earn this opportunity," said Weatherford College Head Coach Jeff Lightfoot.
“Our focus here every year is centered on team accomplishments--conference titles, region championships and a chance to play for a national championship. Individual achievement is typically a by-product of team success. Our staff is excited for the opportunity that has been offered Tejay and we wish him the best. I’m glad that WC could help propel him to future success.”
The previous highest draft pick from the Coyotes was German Duran in 2005, taken in the sixth round (189th overall).
"I improved a lot over the last year. The coaches really helped me," said Antone, crediting Lightfoot and the WC staff for helping him take this step.
Antone, who was set to transfer to Auburn, opted to forgo his last two years of college baseball eligibility and sign his contract. He was drafted on Friday and at the airport at 4 a.m. Saturday preparing to board a flight to Arizona, getting ready to begin his minor league career in rookie ball.
He said after a few days in mini-camp, he will be told if he stays in Arizona or moves to Billings, Montana.
"I'm sure it'll be a mental grind, but I'm excited to get it started," said Antone. "This is what every player dreams of."
Coyote baseball season wrap-up
The Coyote baseball team missed out on another trip to the regional tournament, but did post another winning season nonetheless, their seventh straight. Weatherford College was in the hunt for a return to regionals right up to the final weekend of the regular season.
A 3-1 loss at McLennan in the next-to-last game of the season ended the Coyotes' postseason chances. They finished strong, however, taking the season finale on the road, 7-6 in Waco for a final record of 31-24.
“Our expectation every year is to compete for a conference championship and go to a regional,” said Lightfoot. “We fell short of that this year and that is a disappointment. We were a very young team and I was pleased to see us get rolling late in the year. Our guys continued to work and compete every day.”
Three members of the Coyotes landed All-North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference honors. They were sophomores Trooper Reynolds (third base/catcher) and Antone, along with freshman Scotland Church (catcher).
The Coyotes' longest winning streak was six games, and the longest losing streak was three. They bounced back from a 13-16 record to win 18 of their final 26.
WC returns seven starters next season, highlighted by pitchers Andrew Hendel (6-4 record, 2.30 ERA) and Cam Vige (3-0, five saves, 3.0 ERA).
“We have a core group returning that we are excited about,” Lightfoot said. “We look forward to getting back to the level next year that we have become accustomed to here. We have a clear understanding of what it takes to get to the top and we work toward that on a daily basis.”
Coyote softball season wrap-up
The Weatherford College Coyotes were playing their best softball at season's end, which has Head Coach Haylee Williams already excited about next season.
"Our goal every year is to make it to the World Series, but there are more ways to measure success than just that notch on the season's list of goals," Williams said. "I think the team we were at the regional tournament is who we really are, and we played great there, which is a great way to transition into next year.
"I think we build on that appearance next year."
The Coyotes finished 30-23 overall and reached a third consecutive Region V North Tournament. They went 2-2 in the tournament.
"The regional tournament was definitely the high point of the season," Williams said. "The kids really came together as a team and a force.
"We fought every single pitch like we had been talking to them about all year. They bought into our philosophy and it showed.”
Williams said she’s encouraged about the group returning from this year’s squad.
"I think the kids coming back next year now know how it feels to play as one, fight as one, and can carry that over and show and teach our incoming class what that's all about."
The longest winning streak for the Coyotes was six games. The longest losing streak was four games twice. The only time they were under .500 was when they started the season 0-2, and their highest mark above .500 was at 21-12.
"We had moments of brilliance on the field, in the circle, at the plate, and on defense, and moments we were able to learn from," said Williams. "I think we learned a lot from this season and how to work through adversity. We had a winning record and advanced to the regional tournament, but we want to build and be stronger next season.
"We have to get a little tougher, both mentally and physically."
Seven members of the Coyotes earned All-North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference honors. They included sophomores Molly Holliday (outfielder), Carlie Jenkins (infielder), Alex Kovacs (outfielder), and Andrea Zuniga-Romero (pitcher), along with freshmen Jordan Griffith (infielder), Kelbie Crelia (pitcher) and Lauren Gunter (catcher).
"We have a big returning class next year, and an even bigger class coming in," said Williams. "We have a couple of local standouts in Megan Mason from Aledo and Bethany Allen from Mineral Wells. We have a couple of other kids as well, Ashlyn Monroe and Bailee Pharis, who will help us out at the plate like Mason and Allen will.
"I am very excited about our recruiting class as a whole, and each kid will bring something special to the team. Coach (Chris) Flanagan and I have an entire year together under our belts and have a better feel for what we want, how we want to do things, and how to get the most out of our kids in every way. I expect great things next year and can't wait to get started. It will be a very anxious and long summer."