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Bobcats make a pitch for baseball success

March 12, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2012 at 10:12 p.m.

Travis Quintanilla pitches and plays shortstop for Refugio.  The Bobcats won the state championship in football and are hoping to make a playoff run in baseball.

Refugio Bobcats

Ganado, 11-0Stockdale, 8-4Stockdale, 12-1Industrial, 7-0West Oso, 10-2Goliad, 9-5Beeville, 6-5George West, 6-1Odem*, 6-0San Diego*, 14-3*District 31-2A game

REFUGIO - The crowd for Refugio's District 31-2A opener against Odem might have filled one or two sections at Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium.

But the Bobcats put on the same kind of performance as they did during the football season, capturing a 6-0 win behind a 17-strikeout performance by sophomore Travis Quintanilla.

"In football, you build up, build up, build up all for Friday night," said senior outfielder Shiloh Whetsel. "It's kind of different. It's not as much as a pump. You know there's not near as many fans. But we know what we're going for and if we get to where we're going, there's going to be just as many there."

Refugio rolled to a 15-0 record en route to winning the Class 2A, Division II state championship in football.

The Bobcats have started the baseball season with 10 straight wins and have similar expectations.

"Football is on a completely other level," said Refugio coach Armando Huerta. "But the competitive nature of these kids, they expect to win. Our goal is to clinch a playoff spot, win district, and make a run at the state tournament."

Refugio has won three state titles in football, but has never advanced beyond the fourth round of the baseball playoffs.

"The difference in the past has always come down to dominant pitching or a solid defense," said Huerta, who played baseball at Odem and Texas A&M-Kingsville and is in his fifth season as head coach. "Our reputation has been hitting the ball and scoring runs, but we've been outscored due to a lack of pitching or a lack of defense. This year we have a strong corps of pitchers that I think for the first time matchup with a lot of the top pitchers in this region."

Quintanilla, a sophomore who has struck out 47 in his three starts, including 10 in Monday night's 14-3 win over San Diego.

Huerta can also send senior Richard Tuttle and freshman left-hander Louie Whetsel to the mound.

"I'd say probably our batting and pitching is our strong point," said junior first baseman Colton Carroll, who hit a two-run home run against Odem. "Our order is pretty strong, we don't even use a designated hitter. Our fielding is a little iffy, but we can work on it. We just have to work hard and do our best every game."

Huerta isn't worried about his team's work ethic. All 12 players on the varsity were members of the football team.

"They are the easiest bunch I've ever had to coach," Huerta said. "Their work ethic and team chemistry is to the point where I'm really just supervising. They know what it takes to get it done. They work. They never complain. It's fun to coach these guys."

Huerta has coached most of the players since they were freshmen and they have matured as a unit.

"I can say we are as about complete as I've ever had a team," he said. "Every position is fielded well. The baseball IQ is also up. For the first time in a long time, I've got nine kids with some baseball background."

The Bobcats' biggest asset is understanding how to win, regardless of the sport.

"We've actually talked about kind of going in both sports," Shiloh Whetsel said. "It would really put us on the map. Most people will admit we're good in football, but they think we aren't any good in anything else. We we want to show them we're not just football players. We want to do it all."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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