SHINER — Shiner advancing to the state tournament was hardly a given.
Unlike the football team, which entered the season ranked No. 1, and the track and field team, which was expected to make a run at a state title, the Comanches started the season unranked and as an unknown.
“I knew we had a great group of guys,” said senior Jared Shimek. “We didn’t get to play much last year so nobody really knew about us. We all knew we had a chance to do good things this year.”
Shiner’s Christian Wagner takes batting practice. pic.twitter.com/j1cq5xuWMJ— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) June 8, 2021
Shiner got off to a hot start, losing only to Industrial at the Hallettsville tournament before entering District 28-2A play.
“It was tough coming in because we weren’t sure what we were going to have because we didn’t get to play the year before,” said Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker. “We had a lot of those kids as juniors that were just getting some varsity experience. We knew we had some potential to have some quality people out there on the field. They definitely went beyond expectations and have been playing really well since day one.”
The Comanches (33-4) will make their fifth appearance at the state tournament at 4 p.m. Wednesday when they take on New Deal (27-4) in a Class 2A semifinal game at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
“We started winning a lot of games at the start,” said senior Cash Shows. “Our pitchers could throw well, a lot of strikes, and we had solid defense. We could hit the ball and winning games we could tell we had something special.”
Shiner’s start propelled it into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association’s state poll and the Comanches solidified the No. 1 ranking by going to Weimar, which was ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll, and coming away with an 8-2 district win.
“That game definitely gave us confidence,” Boedeker said. “We knew we were playing a really good team at their place and we were going to see some good pitching and they were going to put the ball in play. Our kids found a way to win that game and that’s when they realized, “Hey, if we take this seriously and get after it we can do some special things.’”
Shiner’s road to the state tournament has not been without adversity. The Comanches had to bounce back from Game 2 losses to win series against Thrall and Mason.
But the biggest blow came in the bi-district round when No. 1 starter Ryan Peterson suffered an elbow injury that has limited him to being a designated hitter.
“It’s definitely tough when you lose a guy like Ryan, who gave us quality innings every time he was out there,” Boedeker said. “The kids played with a lot of confidence behind him. Basically, it was a mindset that people had to step up. I’m really proud of the guys we’ve been putting on the mound who have been doing those things. We told them it’s not about getting strikeouts, it’s about commanding the strike zone and letting the defense play.”
Boedeker has won a state championship at Shiner as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“I told them to compare it to a Game 3 that we have been in,” he said. “When you step out on the field and the first pitch is thrown, your season is on the line and you’ve got to make sure that you’re playing at your best. Mentally, you have to be sharp and focused. The big key is being hungry. They’ve got to want it more than anybody else and they’ve done a good job of that so far.”
The Comanches are anxious to add to their legacy.
“You have to play every play the best you can and remember there’s always the next pitch,” Shows said. “We just need to have fun and do the best we can.”