Bobby Witt Jr. belts home run vs. Birdville on game’s first pitch
“We have some unfinished business,” Witt said of his high school team. “We’re trying to make another run at state and go out with a bang.”
The Panthers are off to a good start at 15-1 and 2-0 in district play.
“We’re as talented as anyone we’re going to run up against,” coach Alan McDougal said. “This group has been close. They’re hungry for the challenge and really trying to take that next step.”
It all starts with Witt.
Heritage has gone 72-15-2 with trips to the regional semifinal in 2017 and regional final last season with the budding superstar. Witt has accounted for 18 home runs and 93 RBI, and has been named all-state during that stretch.
Witt has been on fire the past two weeks, going 19 of 25 with seven homers and 19 RBI.
“I try to improve on everything,” he said. “The mental side of the game, all the tools, my baseball IQ, just trying to get better day by day and eventually get to my goal.”
It didn’t happen overnight though. Witt has been around baseball his entire life.
His father Bobby Witt Sr. played in the majors for 16 years, 10 with the Texas Rangers.
Last summer, Witt Jr. had an incredible run, playing in some of the best major league parks in the country. He won a home run derby during all-star weekend at Nationals Park, played in two All-American games at Wrigley Field and Petco Park, and finished with an all-star game at Globe Life Park.
Witt also helped Team USA to a gold medal in December during the 2018 COPABE Pan-American championships in Panama City.
“He’s a different animal,” McDougal said. “It’s like he’s been groomed with the attention ever since freshman year.”
The attention never gets to Witt’s head.
“It’s common to think that, but Bobby is such a team guy. He’s focused on trying to be the best he can be, but also help us be the best team we can be,” McDougal said. “Luckily as a head coach that’s one thing I don’t have to talk to him about.”
“My dad always tells me to keep grinding and to always stay humble,” Witt added. “He’s always there for me and a big role model.”
Heritage also has six others that are committed or signed to Division I schools including all-state selections in catcher Nick Balsano (Baylor) and pitcher Jakob Berger (Dallas Baptist).
Third basemen Mason Greer, son of former Rangers outfielder Rusty Greer, is committed to Auburn.
Others include Logan Britt (Texas A&M), Jacob Guerrero (New Mexico) and Chandler Freeman (Dallas Baptist).
“It’s a talented senior class,” Witt said. “All the underclassmen have bought in too so it’s going to be fun the next few months.”
“It’s a scary lineup,” McDougal added. “People come in and think if they take care of Bobby, they have it all figured out. We’re so much deeper. It’s going to be our ability to do things without him at times, whether they pitch around Bobby or don’t pitch to him at all. It’ll be the other guys that will set this thing in motion and so far they’ve done a great job the first three weeks.”
As for all the glory surrounding the star shortstop, both Witt and McDougal think it only helps the Panthers overall.
“I hope so,” Witt said. “Hope we can build off it and learn from it. It’s good to have those guys. They’re an awesome group of teammates.”
Added McDougal: “It does nothing but help. They’re going to follow Bobby’s lead. He’s a leader by example. It’s watch what Bobby does and how he conducts his business. Hope they can follow that mold because that’s certainly a good example.”