HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL

Play ball! Local teams ready for baseball season to start in earnest

All six LISD team hoping to challenge for district titles and make it to the playoffs this season

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Cedar Park

Upcoming schedule: 

Mar. 8-10 at Manor Tournament

Mar. 13 vs. Bastrop, 7 p.m.

Mar. 14 at Bastrop, 7 p.m.

A young Cedar Park team will be looking to grow up fast. 

“The expectations are to be competing for a district championship every year,” Cedar Park head coach Kris Gawriluk said. “To do that, we’ve got to have a lot of young kids grow up.

The Timberwolves’ lineup features just a few guys that played for them last season. Ryan Fiala, Brant McDonald and Mak Sexton are returning first-team All-District honorees and the only three from the 14 Cedar Park players that earned awards last season. 

So far this season, Cedar Park has been fairly inconsistent with wins against McNeil, Cedar Ridge and Vandegrift but losses to Stony Point, Round Rock and Vista Ridge. 

Gawriluk said having so many young teams doesn’t mean they’re laking talent, it’s just a matter of getting varsity experience. Junior Hutson McGaughan allowed just four hits in the loss against Vista Ridge, but one of them was a solo home run, the only run of the game. 

He’s been impressed with the youth in the field, including a sophomore catcher and freshman second baseman Ryder Hernandez adding even if they commit an error or make a mistake, they’re already showing the ability to bounce right back.

“This is a goofy group that doesn’t take things too seriously,” Gawriluk said. “Where we strong is that we’ve got options. We’ve played good baseball and we’ve been in every game and that’s all I can ask for because as long as it’s close, we’ve got a chance.”

Rouse 

Upcoming schedule:

Mar. 8-10 at Dripping Springs Tournament

Mar. 13 vs. East View, 7 p.m.

Mar. 14 at East View, 7 p.m.

Rouse had a historic year last season, now the Raiders are trying to match the mark they’ve put up. 

“My expectations are always the same and I’ve told them before that we want to put the program in a place to go to the state tournament,” Rouse head coach Chad Krempin said. “We’ve got some new guys in new roles and in a week or two, we’ll be better.”

Rouse had a spectacular turnaround last season. The Raiders went from zero district wins in 2016 to 15 wins and an outright district title last year, Krempin’s first as head coach. They did it with a potent offense and stellar defense, scoring the most runs in district play (107) and allowing the fewest (31). 

Reigning district MVP Cody Vannoy returns as does sophomore Dalton Porter, who was named the district co-Newcomer of the Year. Second-teamer honorees outfielder Hayden Thomas and pitcher Jared Southard also return to the lineup. 

Offensively, he said they’re striking out twice as much as they did a year ago. 

“We play hard and hustle and every time you play us you’re going to have to come out and play really well,” Krempin said.

Leander 

Upcoming schedule: 

Mar. 10 at Westwood, 1 p.m.

Mar. 14 vs. Vista Ridge, 7 p.m.

Mar. 15 at Vista Ridge, 7 p.m.

Leander was a  young baseball team last year and missed out on the playoffs. With a year under their belts and senior-laden roster, the Lions are pushing for a playoff spot. 

They have already eclipsed their win total from a season ago, winning five-game before the district season even began. 

The Lions won four of six games at the LISD tournament last weekend, boasting victories against Cedar Park, Rouse, Marble Falls and St. Dominic’s. They beat Belton in the second game of the season.

A Texas Tech commit, senior pitcher Mason Montgomery picked up his first win of the season in shutout fashion against Belton. He was the Lions’ only first-team selection last year and is the only returning player of the four honored. 

Leander hasn’t made it to the postseason since 2014 when it made it to the second round. The Lions lost to Cedar Park in a play-in game after finishing in a three-way tie for fourth place in the district in 2016.

The district season begins against a pair of teams that did make the postseason last year taking on Vista Ridge and Vandegrift in three-game series’ to begin district play.

Vandegrift 

Upcoming games:

Mar. 9 vs. Westlake, 7 p.m.

Mar. 10 at Westlake, 1 p.m.

Mar. 13 at Westlake, 7 p.m.

Fresh off the first playoff appearance in school history, the Vandegrift baseball team wants to make it two years in a row. 

Seventeen seniors from the record-setting team are gone and this year they’re figuring out what combination works best. 

“We’re still trying to find the right pieces and put them where to go,” Vandegrift coach Allen McGee said. “We’ve got some good ballplayers, we’ve just got gel as a team and that’s our job as coaches.”

Vandegrift won one game at the LISD tournament last weekend, dominating Marble Falls 15-1 behind five RBIs from Drew Nelson. The Vipers’ other win came early in the season, beating McNeil 4-3.

McGee said the Vipers lost seven starters and the first two guys off the bench that they would normally go to.

Justin Moore is the only returning player that was named to the All-District list last season, earning first-team honors as a third baseman. He was also a key figure for the Vipers’ basketball and football teams this year. 

“This team has bought into us being aggressive on the bases,” McGee said. “We’ve done better on the bases than we were last year, we’ve just got to capitalize when we get runners in scoring position and we’ve got to bring them home.”

Vista Ridge 

Upcoming Schedule:

Mar. 9 at Lehman, 7 p.m.

Mar. 13 at Leander, 7 p.m.

Mar. 14 vs. Leander, 7 p.m.

Going into the season, Vista Ridge head coach Jason Bourgeois was kind of unsure what team he was going to have. 

Just a couple weeks in, he’s happy with what he’s seen. 

The Rangers won five of their six games at the LISD Tournament this weekend, highlighted by shutout wins against Cedar Park and Hutto. 

“We graduated pretty much all of our pitching from last season,” Bourgeois said. “We’ve been working on the control and the mindset that we can’t let the previous pitch dictate the future. So far we’ve been really pleased with how the pitch have controlled themselves.”

Nathan Fetchel pitched a shutout in the win against the Hippos on Thursday and Dathon McGrath allowed just one hit and didn’t give up a run in the win against the Timberwolves on Friday afternoon.

Offensively, Bourgeois said the hitting has been spotty with one part of the order hitting one game and another part in a groove the next game. But that’s to be expected see early in the season. 

Brady Nevit hit his second home run of the season against Cedar Park, Caden Walton has been playing well defensibly at third base and Jake Taute has been hitting the ball well and played a good first base, according to Bourgeois.

Glenn

Upcoming games: 

Mar. 8-10 at Manor Tournament

Mar. 13 vs. Salado, 7:30 p.m.

Mar. 16 at Llano, 7:30 p.m.

The first year of the Glenn baseball program featured some growing pains. In their second year of existence, the Grizzlies are ready to take another step.

“Our goal is to find a way into the playoffs,” head coach Zac Darling “Last year was tough but we found a way to improve throughout the season. The physical tools are pretty easy to see from year to year, but the mental approach has been night and day.”

Glenn played at the Lago Vista tournament this weekend and finished 1-3, losing their first two games and coming back with a win against Blanco on the second day before coming up short against Lago Vista in the finale.

Darling said shortstop Daniel Vazquez and second baseman Noah Saucedo have done a great job defensibly and at the top of the lineup and Carson Garza — a first-team selection a year ago — is getting his timing down. 

On the mound, the Grizzlies pitch by committee. Darling said they don’t have any power arms and it comes down to who wants to come in and get the job done and said Austin Martin has the ability to start or come out of the bullpen. 

“We’re in a good place as far as starting to play our best ball in district play next week,” Darling said. “We’ve got high hopes.”

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Email: sports@hillcountrynews.com

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