Area teams ready to play ball
By BY MIKE FORMAN - MFORMAN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 17, 2013 at 6:03 a.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:17 p.m.
Area baseball teams won't have the luxury of easing into the season.
Victoria West, Victoria East and St. Joseph begin play Monday with a sense of urgency.
District play is just over two weeks away, and lineups are likely to be determined during nondistrict and tournament play.
East and West remained in District 30-4A, which lost Floresville and added perennial state power Calallen and Tuloso-Midway.
St. Joseph dropped from TAPPS Class 5A to 4A and will play in a district with San Antonio Christian, Austin Hyde Park, San Marcos Academy, Austin St. Dominic Savio, Corpus Christi Incarnate Word, San Antonio Holy Cross, San Antonio TMI and Austin Regents.
The following is a glance at the upcoming season.
Victoria West Warriors
• Season opener: at Yoakum, Monday, 7:30 p.m.
• Last season: 18-9, lost one-game area playoff against Calallen.
• Returning starters: OF Blake Staff, C Aaron Kuester, SS/C/P Koby Bynum
• Coach Manuel Alvarado: "Although we are only returning three starters from last year's playoff team, we are looking forward for our returning lettermen and our younger players to fill the voids left behind. We have been working really hard on just getting back to the basics of baseball. We have a lot of kids who need to experience the faster pace of varsity baseball, and we will be using our tournaments to find out where we are and what needs to be done to get back in the playoffs."
Victoria East Titans
• Season opener: vs. Corpus Christi Carroll, at Corpus Christi Whataburger Field, Monday, 6:30 p.m.
• Last season: 20-13, lost 2-0 in best-of-three game area playoff series against Corpus Christi Moody.
• Returning starters: SS/2B/P Jonathan Ortega, OF Trey Thormahlen, 2B/SS/P Tim Gleinser, 1B/P Hunter Perkins, 3B/P Cole Urban, P Michael Garcia, C Aaron Prado
• Coach Wes Kolle: "Pitching and defense appear to be the strength of this year's squad. Some of the main arms toeing the rubber this season include Michael Garcia, Ryan Williams, Hunter Perkins, Kyle Craft and Adrian Gonzalez. Defensively, the Titans look to be strong up the middle with Jonathan Ortega and Tim Gleinser in the infield and Trey Thormahlen roaming the outfield. Seth Christian, Trevor Brown, Brandon Cantu, Jacob Rosales and Cam Williams are competing for corner spots in the outfield, while Cole Urban and Trent Salas will be manning the hot corner at third base. A tough nondistrict schedule will hopefully have the Titans ready for what is certain to be a competitive District 30-4A race."
St. Joseph Flyers
• Season opener: vs. El Campo, Riverside Stadium, Monday, 7 p.m.
• Last season: 11-12, lost in one-game TAPPS area playoff against San Antonio Holy Cross.
• Returning starters: SS/P Jerry Vasquez, INF Eric Alvarez, 1B Sam Poland, OF Clayton Davidson, OF Matt Perez.
• Coach Mike Shimek: "We are back in the 4A division where we are supposed to be as far as enrollment goes, but the competition in district play I feel will be stiffer. We start with almost half of our roster not having even one day of practice due to overlapping sports. With time, I feel this squad can be competitive. As usual in this sport, much will depend on pitching. Jerry Vasquez, the only experienced pitcher, will be expected to carry a large load. All other pitchers that will see action have a combined five innings of varsity pitching experience. They will have to mature quickly. Again, with time, I feel we can be competitive, but we may have to endure a lump or two to get there. With some team chemistry, openness to learning and hard work that must go with it, this team can be successful."
NOTES FROM AROUND THE AREA
• Hallettsville advanced to the Class 2A regional finals last season and played three one-run games against Jarrell. The Brahmas lost the decisive game in extra innings, and Jarrell went on to win the state championship. Coach Shorty Cook's team returns a number of starters and should have the pitching depth to make a postseason run. Hallettsville will play in District 28-2A with Schulenburg, Karnes City, Nixon-Smiley, Luling, Poth and Stockdale.
• El Campo advanced to the Class 4A bi-district playoffs last season and dropped into a competitive District 25-3A with Wharton, Bellville, Sealy, Columbus, Needville and Brookshire Royal. El Campo coach Russell Krenek welcomes back senior Bryce Brandl, who has signed a letter of intent to play at Texas State next season.
• Yoakum advanced to the regional semifinals, and Cuero made it to the regional quarterfinals last season. Both figure to be a factor in the District 26-3A race against Gonzales, La Grange, Giddings and Smithville. A number of Bulldogs return for coach Bobby Nicholson. Cuero coach Scott Holder left to begin a new program in College Station, but new coach Phil Schwarz inherits a solid group of returning starters.
• Refugio had its first undefeated regular season in school history last year. But the Bobcats lost in a one-game area playoff against George West. Starting pitcher Travis Quintanilla is back for coach Armando Huerta's team. The Bobcats have also moved north to join District 30-2A with Bloomington, Edna, Goliad, Tidehaven, Palacios, Industrial and Aransas Pass.
• District 28-1A figures to be one of the most competitive in the area and around the state. Weimar, which dropped from Class 2A, Shiner and Flatonia have state tournament experience and have won state titles. They will face off against Ganado, Louise and Yorktown.
• Shiner St. Paul has been to the TAPPS state tournament 18 times since 1989. The Cardinals won the state championship in 2011 and advanced to the state final last season. Coach Cole Franco has 10 seniors back from last year's team, and another state tournament run is likely.