Head south on Chisholm Trail Parkway and baseball fans will find the top-ranked Class 5A team in the state — the Cleburne Yellow Jackets.
A regional semifinalist in 2017, Cleburne looks even better this season at 22-1-2 and riding a 19-game win streak.
Junior left-hander and Texas Tech commit Willie Rangel was a walk shy of a perfect game Tuesday night in a 9-0 rout of Burleson Centennial. Rangel struck out 13 in that one..
But it’s just not Rangel, it’s been a collective effort.
“With this year’s group, from top to bottom, everyone is able to get it done,” coach Ross Taylor said. “Different guys have stepped up at different times.”
One that stepped up on Tuesday was sophomore infielder Slayton Day, who’s grand slam in the second inning helped the Yellow Jackets improve to 9-0 in District 9-5A.
“We’re just like one big family this year,” said Day, who was voted district newcomer of the year in 2017. “We like to work together and just hang out, be brothers.”
Slayton bats third in the order, since he was a freshman.
"I think he really holds down the lineup and he’s hitting the ball real well,” senior pitcher Landon Cody said.
Rangel (8-0) already has two no-hitters in district play. The other was March 23 against Arlington Seguin.
"We have a lot of heart and we play together," Rangel said.
“Willie is a good competitor. I feel like every time he goes out on the mound, we have a chance to win,” Cody added. “We feel confident and we know he’ll take care of business.
Cody (7-0) is a right-hander and has committed to Hendrix College. He’ll start Friday at home against Crowley. Cody allowed two hits and no runs in four innings in his last outing, a 15-5 decision against Everman.
“It makes it a whole lot easier to pitch whenever you have a five-run lead,” he said. “I think we’re feeling real good as a team right now, that’s the main thing."
Cleburne will go for its 20th win a row on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets have been ranked No. 1 in 5A by Texas High School Baseball for the past month.
"It has to let it motivate you," said Taylor. "All we can control is how we play. We come out and try to get wins on the board. The only rankings that matter is at the end of the year so we try not to focus on it a whole lot. We focus on the game coming up and the guys have handled it well."
Taylor has been with Cleburne for 21 years. He's won over 600 career games.
“They hold each other accountable and do a lot of things right on and off the field,” he said. “It’s a group of kids that are proud to represent Cleburne.”