Three area baseball teams enjoyed their best postseason run in years. Two of those programs had a new head coach at the helm.
The Brock Eagles (27-9) advanced the farthest of any area squad, reaching the Class 3A Region II finals after winning District 11-3A. The Eagles were led by Hart Herring in his first year at the helm.
The Weatherford Kangaroos (24-11), under Jason Lee in his first season leading the team, won the extremely tough District 4-6A, in which seven of the eight teams went into the last week with a shot at the playoffs. They followed by reaching the third round of the postseason for the first time since 2009, a team Lee was also a part of during his tenure of 15 years as an assistant coach for the Roos.
Peaster (18-14) reached the third round of the playoffs, their deepest playoff run since 2009. The Greyhounds were eliminated by Brock in a pair of one-run games.
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Area coaches reflected on the season and look ahead:
Record: 27-9, District 11-3A champions.
Playoffs: Region II finals.
Starters expected back from end of season (grade next season): Trent Patino, OF, sr.; Jansen Ivie, IF, jr.; Christian Stites, IF, jr.; Cole Lightfoot, IF, soph.; Bryce Nye, OF, jr.; Doc Bruner, C, jr.
Coach Hart Herring's thoughts: "We had a fantastic season overall, and you have to call this year a huge success, because anytime you are only one series win away from playing in the state tournament, then you have certainly accomplished a lot.
"I wanted to challenge our team early in the season by playing the best teams in the state of Texas during our tournament schedule. We competed well but lost a few close ones, but I knew that it was going to eventually help us in the long run. We peaked at the right time, which is extremely important."
Record: 18-14, fourth in District 11-3A.
Playoffs: Third round.
Starters expected back from end of season (grade next season): Ryan Schult, OF, sr.; Colton Arnold, OF, sr.; Devin Alvey, IF/P, jr.; Matthew Grimes, IF/P, jr.; Evan Hafley, IF/P, jr.; Kelton Shook, IF/C, jr.; Preston Hardin, IF/C, jr.; Trey Durham, OF/IF, jr.
Coach Lynn Grimes' thoughts: "I was very proud of our players this year. They grew up a lot as the year went by. Our team was tested throughout the year, and they kept responding.
"This team had as much fight and heart in them as any team I have been a part of in my 26 years of coaching. It was a lot of fun watching them compete and give their all. As a coach, that is all you can ask for from your team.
"We base our program at Peaster on great effort and great attitude, This team bought in and made a great run in the playoffs. We will keep working hard and push to get better, the future looks bright."
Record: 24-11, District 4-6A champions.
Playoffs: Third round.
Starters expected back from end of season (grade next season): DeMarcuss Gratts, 2B, sr.; Preston Edison, LF/P, sr.; Nick Rodriguez, SS, sr.; Mason Zamarron, OF/DH, sr.; Blake Burrows, CF, jr.; Mason Hilton, P, jr.
Coach Jason Lee's thoughts: "I hated to see the season end as this team had great makeup. The guys were a fun group of young men to coach and were always ready to work.
"This senior class has definitely left their mark and an example of what we are about, and what we expect in our baseball program. The seniors will be missed, but I do think we have enough younger guys coming back and moving up from the subvarsity teams to be a very competitive team next year."
Record: 22-10, second in District 8-5A.
Playoffs: Second round.
Starters back from end of season (grade next season): Michael Alvarez, 3B, sr.; Hunter Rosson, SS, jr.; Calloway Shands, 2B, sr.; Kannon Brown, P, sr.; Cameron Caldwell, OF, sr.
Coach Chad Barry's thoughts: "We also have two returning lettermen that had a lot of playing time, so we feel really good about what we have coming back.
"There are a lot of teams that would like to say that was how they ended up (area round). I am very proud of the way our kids came out and competed. They had a bulls-eye on their back all season long (after back-to-back state appearances and a state title in 2014).
"Everyone wanted to be able to say they beat us, so I think teams definitely got amped up to play us, so we had to constantly rise to the occasion. I felt like they (Bearcats) did that and handled themselves with class and integrity.
"The group coming back seems to have a chip on their shoulder and feels like they have something to prove going into next season. I like the way they have started already preparing for next year."