Paul Gibson has seen a lot in his more than two decades as the head baseball coach at L.D. Bell.
But even he was scratching his head in amazement as teams spent the better part of a couple of weeks just trying to play a single game.
“The weather has hurt us. We’re hoping to play a lot of games during spring break,” he said as the pair of snow storms in two weeks handicapped even practices.
It’s not as though the Blue Raiders are rebuilding. When you’ve had the kind of success they’ve had under Gibson, who is in his 22nd season at the helm, you don’t use that word.
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It’s more, as the saying goes, like the Blue Raiders are reloading. That’s what happens when teams have a tradition and programs simply know how to win.
The Blue Raiders have made the postseason 15 times in Gibson’s 21 years at the school, winning eight district championships. They are seeking their fifth straight appearance in the playoffs.
And in the playoffs, the Blue Raiders have consistently proven they are worthy. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 they made it to the regional semifinals, and in 2011 they reached the regional finals.
Sure, they graduated the District 6-5A Defensive MVP (Zack Plunkett) and Pitcher MVP (Bryce Kidwell), along with six other all-district players. And yes, they only have two returning starters and four returning lettermen, but they include a couple of great players Gibson can build a team around.
Senior Jordan Satterwhite has been on the varsity since his freshman season and has been a starting pitcher for three seasons. Junior lefthander Mason Peterson has started since he was a freshman, both pitching in center field.
Peterson was a first-team All-District 6-5A selection last season, and Satterwhite was a second-team pick. Peterson has also already made a verbal commitment to play for Texas Tech in two years.
Gibson is also counting on senior third baseman/pitcher J.B. Moran, senior outfielder Skyler Krier, junior second baseman/pitcher Jarrett Fuller and senior shortstop/pitcher Logan Herd, all reserves last season, to make even more of an impact this season. Newcomer Will Mayer, a senior right-handed pitcher, could also be a great addition, Gibson said.
“We’re not really rebuilding since most of the team is seniors,” said Gibson. “Most of them were on the JV last year.”
They were on a junior varsity that might have competed for the top spot in some district. The Blue Raider JV won 25 of the 26 games it played.
“We have to a lot of growing up to do, and we have to do it really fast,” said Gibson. “Weather is not helping.”
Neither will the Blue Raiders’ new district, 7-6A. Along with Bell, it is a tough district top to bottom, with the likes of Southlake Carroll, Richland, Colleyville Heritage, Coppell, Euless Trinity, and Haltom.
When asked about a team to beat in the district, Gibson replied, “Everyone. It’s scary how tough this district will be.”