Nathan Fetchel didn’t make the Vista Ridge baseball team his sophomore year.
Two years later, he and the Rangers picked up one of the biggest wins in the country as they playoffs get ready to begin.
The senior pitcher tossed six innings with five strikeouts and Vista Ridge handed No. 1 Lake Travis its first loss of the season with a 4-3 win last week. Following the season-ending three-game series against Westlake, the Rangers will enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed from District 25-6A.
“We knew they were good but we knew they could be beaten,” Fetchel said. “We were really relaxed before the game and were having fun. We just went out there with confidence. Everybody was backing me up on the mound.”
The win snapped the Cavaliers’ 25-game winning streak. Vista Ridge scored the first four runs of the game before Lake Travis added three of its own, including one in the bottom of the seventh.
The game ended when Andrew Chapa got a strikeout on a check swing with one out. The Cavaliers tried to steal and the batter interfered with the throw to second and the advancing runner was called out to end the game.
“At the beginning of the year we were timid waiting for the district to start,” senior Brady Nevit said. “Then we caught our stride. After the last game against Leander, we went on a nine-game win streak that ultimately helped us beat Lake Travis.”
The Rangers were shut out in back-to-back games against the Lions on March 14-15. Vista outscored its opponents 64-35 over the next nine games.
“Nothing has changed, that’s just baseball,” Vista Ridge head coach Jason Bourgeois said. “Sometimes you come out and you’re tearing the cover off the baseball and others you tip your hat to the pitcher. You’ve just got to roll with the punches and deal with the adversity and our group has been doing a great job of doing that.”
Bourgeois said he wasn’t worried about this year’s offense coming into the year and he knew the defense would improve, but the biggest question mark was the pitching staff, which had less than 16 innings off varsity experience.
The Rangers lost all three starters from last year and Fetchel, Chapa, Dathon McGrath, Dawson Groch, Beau Vealey and others have responded to his challenge to not worry about velocity and throw strikes.
“We’re a lot cleaner and well put together,” Fetchel said. “We beat one of the best teams in the nation so we’re full of confidence. We’ve got to stay with what we’re doing. We can continue to do well with that kind of mentality.”