Boyd ISD approves field renovations


Boyd ISD trustees Monday night approved upgrades to the existing baseball and softball fields, putting in artificial turf, net backstops, renovating the dugouts and replacing side fences.
The cost of the project is $1,081,391. The district will pull money out of its reserves for the project.
The fields are expected to be ready for the teams’ district openers March 12.
Four different contractors will complete the work. Hellas will put in the turf for $988,375. Bob Moss Masonry will build the dugouts and the baseball backstop retaining wall for $21,490. Ray’s Fencing will put in the side fences for $15,925. Containment System will construct the net backstops for $55,601.
Trustees discussed the fields for more than two hours before voting 5-2 for the renovations. Kyle Erwin and Kenneth Shepherd voted against the project.

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Three Decatur athletes sign letters


Making College Plans

MAKING COLLEGE PLANS – Decatur seniors Reagan Chism, Satasha Kostelecky and Nick Birmingham signed letters of intent Wednesday. Messenger photo by Reece Waddell

Three Decatur seniors confirmed their college plans Wednesday morning.

Middle blocker Satasha Kostelecky signed to play volleyball at Rice University. Nick Birmingham inked to play baseball at the University of New Mexico. Reagan Chism will play softball at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Each of their coaches praised their hard work and dedication before the signing ceremony.

“I’m way excited,” Birmingham said. “New Mexico has always felt like home to me. It’s a great place for me to go and play baseball.”

Chism led the Lady Eagles to the 4A Region II final last year. She was the District 9-4A MVP, striking out 259 batters to propel Decatur to an undefeated league title. Chism was also the Wise County MVP, sporting a 1.57 ERA in 30 games.

Kostelecky eclipsed the 1,000-kill mark last weekend against Glen Rose in the 4A Region I final. She played in her first state tournament Friday. Decatur beat Melissa to reach the state final Saturday.

She plans to major in kinesiology, and said she chose Rice because of its combination of athletics and academics.

“I’m very excited to compete in that competitive atmosphere and with those girls,” Kostelecky said. “They’re all amazing and the coaching staff is amazing. I can’t wait.

“I knew that there I would be able to excel academically and athletically. That’s the best place for me to do that.”

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Trending up: Paradise gains momentum after positive year

Trending up: Paradise gains momentum after positive year


Job Well Done

JOB WELL DONE – Paradise softball coach Karin Essig congratulates a player during a game in 2018. The Lady Panthers went 18-11 and qualified for the playoffs. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After three first-round playoff exits in 2017-2018, confidence around the Paradise athletic program is building.

The girls basketball, baseball and softball teams qualified for the postseason, while the football team was one win shy of snapping an eight-year playoff drought. The girls cross country squad finished 10th at the 3A Region I meet and junior Maddie Mitschke advanced to state meet in the 300 hurdles.

Now that the Panthers have a taste of the postseason, they want – and expect more.

“We’ve been preaching it during our summer athletic training in the morning,” said Paradise athletic director Joe Koch. “Before they leave, we talk about our goals and what we’re really working for – getting into that mindset of being a winner and not settling for second-best. You can feel it starting to come along.”

Softball won its first six games to start District 8-3A play and contended for the league title for most of the season. Junior Kendall Candioto was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association 3A all-state team, going 11-9 with a 2.87 ERA in the circle.

The Lady Panthers finished third in 8-3A after winning a three-way tiebreaker with Boyd and Bowie to end the regular season.

Eastland swept them in the bi-district round.

Football picked up a key win against Ponder late in the season, but dropped its final two games to Bowie and Boyd. They have not made the playoffs since 2009.

“Having that mindset you belong is a big part of it,” Koch said. “You have to be confident, and you can only gain that through hard work and working with your teammates. It’s definitely growing.”

ROAD TO RECOVERY – Paradise point guard Maddie Mitschke drives to the basket in a game against Boyd last season. Mitschke tore her ACL in June and will miss an undetermined amount of time next year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

BEST TEAM: GIRLS BASKETBALL

Paradise made the playoffs for the sixth straight year, going 18-13 overall and 8-6 in league play. The Lady Panthers started district 5-1 and entered the postseason as the fourth seed.

For the second consecutive season, Paradise fell to Brock in the bi-district round. The Lady Eagles advanced all the way to the state semifinal.

“I thought they did a great job,” Koch said. “There is no quit in that team. The first hurdle is the mental approach that you can win. I think the girls have definitely cleared that hurdle, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Mitschke and fellow junior Kaycee Martin were named to the 8-3A first-team while senior Hunter Rogers earned second-team honors. Mitschke led the team in scoring and rebounds, averaging 12.9 points and 10.1 boards. She was the only girl in Wise County to average a double-double.

Paradise will be without Mitschke for an undetermined amount of time next season as the Lady Panthers’ point guard recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) suffered in a summer league game in June.

“It’s hard to replace one of your best players,” Koch said. “But on the other side of the coin, it’s going to force everyone else to step up their game. If she comes back by some point in district, the whole team is going to be that much better.”

BEST SURPRISE: BASEBALL

The Panthers finished fourth in District 8-3A and made the playoffs for the third straight season despite a lineup that featured a majority of underclassman.

Catcher Jace Essig was the 8-3A Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, committing just five errors behind the plate. Freshman Parker Cook earned Co-Newcomer of the Year honors and made an impressive start against Brock in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Cook surrendered just three runs to the No. 2 ranked Eagles in a 3-1 loss. He ended the year with a 3.30 ERA.

Sophomore Mikey Passariello tied a school record with 17 strikeouts in a win against Bowie and was an 8-3A first-team selection. Sophomore Mitchell Sellars also was selected to the first-team, batting .417 with a home run and 14 RBIs.

“They have [a lot of talent],” Koch said. “They’ve been to the playoffs the last three years. I think now they understand what’s at stake and that [just making the playoffs] isn’t good enough anymore. Not that I’m telling them that – that’s more of [an expectation] within themselves.”

COACHING CHANGES:

Paradise will have several new coaches on the sideline and bench in 2018-2019.

Koch is entering his first year as head football coach after taking over for Ronnie Gage in May.

Former baseball coach Nick Pike, who departed in June for the defensive coordinator position at Santo, was replaced by Jason McCoy. McCoy served as an assistant at Granbury last year and prior to that, spent seven years at Notre Dame in Wichita Falls. He took the Knights to the region finals in basketball and baseball.

Girls track coach Johna Ford retired after spending over two decades coaching. Ford graduated from Paradise in 1986 and ran on the track team when she was in school.

Rhea Mitschke, who already served as the assistant varsity girls basketball coach, will replace her.

PARADISE AT A GLANCE

Sport … ’16-17 record … ’17-18 record … Postseason

Football … 4-6 … 3-7 … Missed playoffs

Volleyball … 4-21 … 12-24-2 … Missed playoffs

Cross Country … Girls 10th in 3A Region I

Boys basketball … 7-17 … 4-24 … Missed playoffs

Girls basketball … 19-14 … 18-13 … Bi-district

Baseball … 14-14-1 … 10-15 … Bi-district

Softball … 18-12 … 18-11 … Bi-district

Track … Boys and Girls 4th in 4A

COACHING CHANGES

Sport … Previous Coach … New Coach

Football … Ronnie Gage … Joe Koch

Baseball … Nick Pike … Jason McCoy

Girls Track … Johna Ford … Rhea Mitschke

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Swiss Army Knife; Hicks shines as three-sport athlete

Swiss Army Knife; Hicks shines as three-sport athlete


Best of Sports 2017-2018: Male Athlete of the Year

Wilson Hicks

Wilson Hicks. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

When the last bell rang to release classes for summer on May 24, Decatur junior Wilson Hicks finally got to do something he had not done all year.

Go home.

For the past 10 months, Hicks spent the majority of his time after school practicing or working out with the football, basketball or baseball team. As the starting quarterback, leading scorer and No. 1 pitcher, Hicks has become a staple in the Decatur athletic program.

“It’s absolutely crazy to me to think how much time he’s put into all these sports and how good he does in all of them,” said Decatur basketball coach Drew Coffman. “He’s unbelievable.”

For the second straight year, Hicks is the Wise County Male Athlete of the Year. He is just the second person to win the award in consecutive years, joining fellow Eagle, Taylor Clayton, in 2013 and 2014.

Hicks was a second-team District 4-4A Division I selection at quarterback and honorable mention on the Associated Press’ 4A all-state team. He threw for 3,887 yards and 37 touchdowns, helping the Eagles reach the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

In basketball, Hicks was Decatur’s leading scorer, averaging 14.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He was a District 9-4A first-team selection.

On the mound, Hicks led the Eagles to the region quarterfinal, giving up just seven earned runs all season. He hit .380 and was named the 9-4A Offensive MVP.

The 6-3 lefty has committed to play baseball at Oklahoma State University.

Every year is a grind, but Hicks has learned over time how to multi-task.

“Toward the end of one season going into the next, whenever I have to do two sports at a time, that’s when it starts to get overwhelming,” Hicks said. “It’s always hard, but I have a good work [ethic] for myself so I’m able to juggle all three. I’ve learned as the years go on what I need to do for each sport, preparing for the next season.”

Although Hicks rarely gets to rest during the school year, Decatur athletic director and head football coach Mike Fuller said Hicks’ tireless work ethic is why he is so successful.

“He’s been fun to coach and he’s been fun to watch,” Fuller said. “I believe one of the things that makes him good at each sport is the fact he plays the other two at a high level and is competing year-round. He’s a smart player and learns quickly. Whatever the scheme might be, he’s on top of it.”

Despite his rigorous schedule, Fuller, Coffman and Decatur baseball coach Tommy Maddox raved about Hicks’ poise. No matter the situation, all three coaches are confident Hicks will deliver.

And he has, time and time again.

“He’s always in those situations and he really never takes a break from being in those situations,” Maddox said. “He plays positions that are very high-level, high-stress type positions. He’s had to learn how to be comfortable in those positions and he gets a lot of practice at it because he’s always in them.”

Hicks has been around athletics most of his life.

His father, Larry, has been the assistant basketball coach at Decatur since 2011. He was previously the head coach at Alvord and Decatur. Hicks’ brother, Parker, plays basketball at Texas Tech University and averaged 31.3 points per game during his senior season at Decatur.

While sports are an integral part of Wilson’s life, he still finds time for his friends and school work.

“He doesn’t have a break all school year,” said 2017 all-state Decatur offensive lineman Ty Watson. “I’m pretty positive he’s top 10 percent [academically]. How he keeps his grades up and how he keeps a social life is amazing to me. He’s a great friend.”

Wilson admittedly holds himself to a high standard.

In 2016 when he took over the starting quarterback job, Wilson said he felt a little pressure. After being inserted in the middle of a 52-50 loss to Midlothian Heritage, Wilson went out the following week and threw seven touchdowns in a 61-35 rout of Stephenville.

Ever since, the nerves have been few and far between.

“As I’ve matured and gotten older, it’s not so much pressure.” Wilson said. “I believe in myself and that I’m going to be able to do whatever I want to. I have high expectations for myself that I hold myself up to. I understand how the games work now.”

With one year left at Decatur, Wilson has already set a high bar for himself in 2018-2019.

His goal for his senior year is to make all-state in all three sports -football, basketball and baseball. Wilson knows it will be difficult, but ask anyone around Decatur, and they’ll tell you if anyone can do it, it’s Wilson Hicks.

“He leads by his actions. People see that, and they want to be like him,” Watson said. “I’m going to miss him a lot. He’s the best person at Decatur High School – and I don’t say that lightly.”

Wilson Hicks Inset

Wilson Hicks. Messenger photos by Joe Duty

WISE COUNTY MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR RECIPIENTS

2010: Tim Fleming, Boyd
2011: Toi Glover, Paradise
2012: Jared Cate, Boyd
2013: Taylor Clayton, Decatur
2014: Taylor Clayton, Decatur
2015: Joe Randall, Alvord
2016: Kennan Holdman, Bridgeport
2017: Wilson Hicks, Decatur
2018: Wilson Hicks, Decatur

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Playing through the pain: Roth shows grit, selflessness during senior year


Best of Sports 2017-2018: Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year

Braxton Roth. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

At every Decatur baseball game this spring, Braxton Roth was in the dugout or helping warm a pitcher up in the bullpen.

For three months, Roth diligently showed up to practices and games to support his teammates – knowing he would never see the field.

“He wasn’t out there just to be out there,” said Decatur baseball coach Tommy Maddox. “He was in the game, every inning and every pitch, trying to figure out what he could do to help. It speaks volumes for him as a person, his parents and the way they raised him.

“I know he had an impact on us.”

Roth tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a football game against Bridgeport last October. As the defensive end was coming in to make a tackle on Bulls’ quarterback Jadon Maddux, his leg got twisted and his knee eventually buckled.

The injury left his knee swollen and unstable, but Roth was not ready to call it quits.

Instead of immediately having surgery to repair the ligament, Roth contemplated whether he could play injured. After getting the results of his MRI, Roth and his parents met with doctors to weigh the risks.

His father, Tony, who was the defensive coordinator at Decatur last year, was apprehensive at first.

“I didn’t want him to not be able to walk down stairs or carry his kids down to the bank to go fishing,” Tony said. “I tried to counsel him on that, but he was determined.”

Since Braxton only suffered damage to his ACL, doctors said he could potentially play through it – but could damage his entire knee in the process.

“Since I just tore my ACL, [the doctor] said I had a risk of blowing up everything in my knee,” Braxton said. “He was not all for the playing thing. Everything in [my] knee could have been destroyed.”

Knowing he could put his whole knee in jeopardy, Braxton made the decision to finish out the season with a torn ACL.

“I didn’t really know at that point if I was going to play in college or not,” Braxton said. “I wanted to end on my own terms.”

Braxton spent the next several weeks following his injury doing rehab in the pool with athletic trainer Kam Phillips. Together, Braxton and Phillips made their way to the Fit-N-Wise pool every morning at 4 a.m.

Braxton Roth. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“As soon as his doctor cleared him for that, we hopped in,” Phillips said. “We lived in that pool doing slides and cuts underwater, that way he wasn’t bearing weight. As we progressed through that, his strength and range of motion came back.”

Braxton missed just two games before returning Oct. 27 against Gainesville. To get him ready, Phillips and fellow trainer Fernando Escobar heavily taped Braxton’s knee prior to him suiting up. His knee was also placed in a bulky brace.

With the support of his parents, teammates, coaches and friends, Braxton finished the season and was on the field for the Eagles’ playoff run. Decatur advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013 with Braxton playing in every game down the stretch.

When the curtain finally closed Dec. 1 in the regional quarterfinals against Wichita Falls Hirschi, Braxton had racked up four sacks and 78 total tackles. He ranked third and fourth on the team in those respective categories.

By season’s end, Roth had been named to the District 4-4A Division I second-team.

“Braxton is a coach’s dream,” said Decatur head coach Mike Fuller. “He always came with a great attitude and worked hard. He always put the team first. Braxton’s mental and physical toughness separated him from the average player. He made a difference every day.”

Braxton had surgery to repair his torn ACL two weeks after Decatur’s season-ending loss to Hirschi. Surgeons took a graft from Braxton’s patellar tendon to repair the damaged ligament.

Despite playing six games with no ACL, Braxton suffered no additional damage to his knee. The surgery was a success, and seven months after the operation, Braxton is back to running, cutting and working out regularly.

During the baseball season, Braxton went through his rehab that included weight and resistance training to strengthen the muscles around his knee. Although he couldn’t play, Braxton became a fixture on the field as Decatur’s de-facto bullpen and conditioning coach.

“There were some [times] I kind of got on to them and wished I was out there, but I realized this is not a selfish game,” Braxton said. “Growing up in a household where your dad is a coach, it’s about the team. You have to think of the team first. That’s a conversation we had coming back from my knee injury. If I can’t perform to the level that we need, I’m not going to play.”

Braxton will play football at Fort Hays State University in Kansas in the fall. His athletic journey did not end at Decatur, but his father – as well as several others – will never forget what he did his senior year, both on and off the field.

His selflessness made him the 2018 Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year.

“He’s always wanted to be a part of it,” Tony said. “Whether he’s the starter [or not]. It’s a game with his friends. He doesn’t want to miss out on the excitement and fun of it.

“As tough as it was for him, his knee injury will be something we’ll remember forever and talk about forever. That’s probably my proudest moment – him getting through that.”

DENNY DEADY SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR RECIPIENTS

2014: Marshall Anderle, Chico
2015: Caitlin Pruett, Slidell
2016: Dylana Hutchins, Decatur
2017: Kayson Roof, Slidell
2018: Braxton Roth, Decatur

DENNY DEADY SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

Denny Deady

Denny Deady is not only a beloved member of the Messenger family, but is also respected and held in high regard across Wise County.

Her generous spirit, kind heart and sincere interest in people were the basis for her successful newspaper career and remarkable community involvement.

“To say that a person is the ‘heart and soul’ of an organization may seem trite, but without a doubt, for the Wise County Messenger, that honor goes to Denny Deady, who was a part of the staff for more than 30 years,” said publisher Roy Eaton.

Deady, who retired in the fall of 2010 after 33 years with the Messenger, held various positions and played an integral role in making the paper a community cornerstone. She started as a staff reporter, also covering sports, and was eventually named sports editor. She later moved to the ad department, where she served as manager, and she retired as the Messenger’s special projects manager.

“Denny was a great writer and covered many of the newspaper’s biggest stories during her career,” Eaton said. “But to just stop there would not do her justice. Her generosity with her time and talents is legendary.”

Her community involvement was widespread, and as a breast cancer survivor, many of her activities centered on women’s health issues. Her baking, especially her sweet rolls, is legendary, and she has donated dozens to community fundraisers. At one event, car dealers James Wood and Karl Klement got in a bidding war for them, and when the hammer fell, the rolls had sold for $4,000 with all the money going to charity.

Denny and her husband, Brian, a retired teacher and football coach, now live in Magnolia to be near their daughter and son-in-law, Guinness and Brent Collins, and grandsons Eoghan and Finn.

The Messenger now annually honors an athlete from Wise County that best exemplifies the same traits as the Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year.

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Future stars: 2018 All-Wise Softball and Baseball Teams

Future stars: 2018 All-Wise Softball and Baseball Teams


Teams selected by Reece Waddell with consultation of Wise County coaches. Photos by Joe Duty. Graphic design by Joy Carrico.

Blanks

MVP:
Jerod Blanks, Chico

The senior earned 10-2A Pitcher of the Year honors, going 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 81 over 46 and two-thirds innings while hitting .563 at the plate.

Hicks

PITCHER OF THE YEAR:
Wilson Hicks, Decatur

The Oklahoma State commit gave up only seven earned runs all season. He had an ERA of 0.96 and tossed 51 innings for the Eagles, leading them to the region quarterfinals.

Couture

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Dylan Couture, Boyd

Couture was a 3A second-team all-state third baseman, batting .410 in 2018. The 8-3A Offensive Player of the Year had a monster season, smashing 13 doubles, two home runs and tallying 30 RBIs.

Essig

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Jace Essig, Paradise

The 8-3A Defensive Player of the Year was a wall behind the plate for the Panthers with a fielding percentage of 0.965. Essig committed just five errors all season and caught nine runners stealing.

Rascon

UTILITY PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Bodi Rascon, Decatur

Rascon hit .415 at the dish, drove in 30 runs and swiped 11 bases. On the mound, the lanky southpaw shut the opposition down, sporting an ERA of 1.70 over 39 innings.

Cook

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR:
Parker Cook, Paradise

The freshman went 4-3 with a 3.89 ERA, including an impressive start in the bi-district round of the playoffs against Brock. Cook threw the second-most innings on the team and fanned 27 batters on the year.

Chism

MVP:
Reagan Chism, Decatur

The 9-4A MVP tallied 259 strikeouts and pitched in 30 games, leading the Lady Eagles to an appearance in the region final. Chism walked just 27 batters all season and was unhittable at times with a 1.57 ERA.

Candioto

PITCHER OF THE YEAR:
Kendall Candioto, Paradise

An 8-3A first-team selection, Candioto collected 202 strikeouts to go along with a 2.78 ERA and 11-9 record. Six of her losses were by one run. Candioto led the Lady Panthers in every statistical category offensively, hitting .488 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

Tipton

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Christina Tipton, Paradise

The 8-3A first-team catcher had a 0.974 fielding percentage and was Candioto’s battery mate behind the plate. She batted .340 with an on-base percentage of .376 and drove in 19 runs.

Trull

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Tristyn Trull, Decatur

The freshman hit .450 and drove in 27 runs in the heart of Decatur’s order. Trull was a 9-4A first-team selection and scored 39 runs on the season.

Rasbury

UTILITY PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Kristin Rasbury, Boyd

A four-year starter, Rasbury capped off her final season with the Lady Jackets by hitting .483 with 27 RBIs and four home runs. In the circle, she struck out 128 with a 4.58 ERA. She will play softball at Henderson State.

Hesteande

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR:
Brison Hesteande, Decatur

Hesteande batted .455, tallied 12 RBIs and scored 41 runs to help Decatur finish the season 25-6. She was 9-4A’s Newcomer of the Year and had a fielding percentage of 0.937.

Touch Em All

TOUCH ‘EM ALL – Decatur’s Bodi Rascon is greeted by teammates after hitting a grand slam against Bridgeport. Rascon was the All-Wise Baseball Utility Player of the Year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

ALL-WISE BASEBALL FIRST-TEAM

Pitcher: Mikey Passariello, Paradise

The sophomore struck out 17 batters in one game and went 4-4 with a 2.14 ERA. He threw 51 and one-third innings on the season and had a WHIP of 1.711.

Pitcher: Boston McIntire, Boyd

McIntire went 5-4, recorded one save and struck out 65 to help Boyd take third in 8-3A. He had an ERA of 2.39 over 67 and one-third innings.

Catcher: Daniel Delgadillo, Bridgeport

The 9-4A first-team selection hit .333, drove in 20 runs and committed just one error behind the plate. He caught 20 runners trying to steal and was selected to play in the Sophomore Sun Belt Classic in Oklahoma City.

Infield: Mitchell Sellers, Paradise

The 8-3A first-team first baseman slugged .682, launched a home run and collected 20 RBIs in 2018. Sellers hit .424 and drew 15 walks for an OBP of .524.

Infield: Yobany Roman, Bridgeport

Roman hit .338 with an OBP of .462. He scored 17 runs, tallied 15 RBIs and had a fielding percentage of 0.988 at second base.

Infield: Kooper Martin, Chico

The freshman hit .446, drove in 26 and belted six doubles. He also pitched 28 and one-third innings and had a 4.69 ERA, earning him first-team honors from 10-2A.

Infield: Tanner Petree, Alvord

The 10-2A first-team selection led Alvord in RBIs with 24 and had an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of 0.981. On the mound, Petree went 4-2 and struck out 31.

Outfield: Beau Bedford, Decatur

Bedford hit .312, drove in 14 and had an OBP of .423. He also saw quality innings on the mound and out of the bullpen as a reliever.

Outfield: Jadon Maddux, Bridgeport

The speedy sophomore stole 20 bases and had a batting average of .328, earning him first-team honors from 9-4A. In the outfield. Maddux never committed an error and had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

Outfield: Payton Brown, Boyd

An 8-3A first-team outfielder, Brown patrolled center field for the Yellowjackets and hit .310 on the year. He produced 15 RBIs, scored 17 runs and laced seven doubles.

DH: Triston Read, Decatur

Read struck out just 10 times all year in 111 plate appearances. He hit .374 with 14 doubles, 32 RBIs and scored 26 runs.

ALL-WISE BASEBALL SECOND-TEAM

Pitcher: Clayton Machal, Alvord

The second-team 10-2A selection led the Bulldogs in innings pitched and tied for the team lead in wins. He was 2-0 with a 5.64 ERA and struck out 45.

Pitcher: Creighton Witt, Boyd

An 8-3A first-team designated hitter, Witt hit for .272 and also found success on the mound. He was 5-3 overall on the season, struck out 58 and boasted an ERA of 3.42.

Catcher: Dayne Chapman, Decatur

The 9-4A second-team catcher hit .333 with an OBP of .418. He drove in 18 runs and caught 16 runners stealing.

Infield: Bailey Umphress, Chico

A 10-2A second-team pitcher, Umphress also spent time at first base and had a solid year at the plate. He finished the season with a .411 average, driving in 26.

Infield: Bridger Skogberg, Paradise

The 8-3A second-team third baseman hit .278 for the Panthers, helping Paradise make it back to the postseason. He had an OPS of 0.741 in his senior campaign.

Infield: Rustyn Fuller, Chico

Fuller led Chico in RBIs with 31 and was third on the team in batting average at .427. He hit six doubles, two triples and scored 29 runs.

Infield: Ace Edgett, Alvord

The freshman hit .309 and was third on the team in RBIs with 16. Edgett had an OBP of .465 and averaged a walk once every five at-bats.

Outfield: Karson Parker, Alvord

The 10-2A second-team selection proved to be a tough out in 2018, tying for the team lead in batting average. He hit .361, led the Bulldogs in walks and triples, and drove in 10.

Outfield: Trey Valentine, Paradise

Valentine batted .256 and collected 10 RBIs. He recorded 23 putouts to go along with a 0.963 fielding percentage.

Outfield: Austin Lacy, Chico

The 10-2A first-team selection stole 24 bases and drove in 17 runs while batting .324. He led the Dragons in fielding percentage at 0.958.

DH: Jake Faust, Boyd

The senior hit .274 with 21 RBis for the Yellowjackets. He was 2-1 on the mound with a 2.21 ERA in district play

Out at Home

OUT AT HOME – Paradise catcher Christina Tipton tags out a City View runner at home plate. Tipton was the All-Wise Softball Defensive Player of the Year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

ALL-WISE SOFTBALL FIRST-TEAM

Pitcher: Gracie Gose, Alvord

The freshman was a 12-2A first-team selection, using her change up to keep hitters off-balance. She notched 47 strikeouts over 43 innings.

Catcher: Jordyn Smith, Decatur

Smith recovered from surgery at the beginning of the season and returned for the final four games of district and the playoffs. She batted .549, drove in 17 runs and did not commit an error behind the plate.

Infield: Sydney Langley, Boyd

Langley flashed her power to all fields in 2018, crushing five home runs, 12 doubles and driving in 38. She hit .451 and was an 8-3A first-team selection each of the past two years.

Infield: Maddi Terry, Paradise

The 8-3A first-team second baseman hit .317 with one home run and 19 RBIs. She scored 22 runs and had a 0.848 fielding percentage.

Infield: Morgen Davidson, Bridgeport

A 9-4A first-team shortstop, Davidson hit .538 and drove in 11 runs. In the field, she made 46 putouts, tallied four assists and had a fielding percentage of 0.877.

Infield: Kaylee Rutledge, Boyd

An 8-3A second-team third baseman, Rutledge batted .379 with 18 RBIs. She hit 11 doubles and one home run and was a two-year starter for the Lady Jackets.

Outfield: Jaci Ticknor, Decatur

The 9-4A Offensive Player of the Year led the Lady Eagles in RBIs with 41. She hit .417 and had a 0.875 fielding percentage.

Outfield: Emerson Coleman, Bridgeport

Coleman hit .412 as a freshman and drew seven walks. She earned second-team 9-4A honors and recorded 26 putouts.

Outfield: Aliyah Smith, Decatur

The 9-4A first-team selection belted three home runs, drove in 15 and hit .390 for the Lady Eagles.

DH: Hannah Copeland, Northwest

The 6-5A first-team selection had a productive year at the plate, batting .427 with one home run and 10 RBIs. She had an OBP of .463 and a slugging percentage of .573

ALL-WISE SOFTBALL SECOND-TEAM

Pitcher: Laynee North, Chico

The 12-2A first-team selection came up big for the Lady Dragons in her senior year, tossing multiple gems throughout the season.

Catcher: Jordan Salmon, Boyd

An 8-3A all-district catcher, Salmon tied for the team lead in home runs with five. She hit .333 with six doubles and 19 RBIs.

Infield: Lilly Hooks, Decatur

Hooks hit .333 and had a 0.971 fielding percentage at first base, earning her 9-4A second-team honors.

Infield: Faith Hicks, Bridgeport

Hicks played at first, third and in the outfield, batting .286. She earned 9-4A academic all-district honors and drew six walks.

Infield: Maley Mader, Alvord

A 12-2A first-team third baseman, Mader hit .509 with an OBP of .581. The junior drove in 17 runs and was a force in the middle of Alvord’s order.

Infield: Samantha Cantu, Decatur

Cantu led the Lady Eagles in home runs with four and drove in 26 runs. She was a 9-4A first team selection and hit .333, playing in 33 games.

Outfield: Kristen Whatley, Boyd

A three-year starter, Whatley earned 8-3A first-team honors in her senior campaign. She hit .268 and drove in 12 runs with two triples.

Outfield: Kinly Walker, Alvord

Walker earned 12-2A first-team honors, batting .490 and tallying 26 RBIs. She pitched 49 innings, struck out 43 and had a fielding percentage of .909.

Outfield: Kristen Grooms, Bridgeport

A 9-4A second-team outfielder, Grooms had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, recording 13 putouts and five assists in 18 total chances. At the plate, she hit .293.

DH: Katelyn Schedcik, Alvord

The senior hit .400 and launched a home run in 2018, earning her 12-2A first team honors. She drove in 15 runs and had an OBP of .538.

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Boyd takes strides; Volleyball makes run to state semis


Historic Season

HISTORIC SEASON – Boyd middle blocker Laney Pelligrini celebrates after scoring a point in a game against Decatur. The Lady Jackets went on to make their first appearance in the state tournament last season. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Boyd Yellowjackets kept fans on the edge of their seats during the 2017-2018 school year.

Needing to beat rival Paradise by 10 or more points in the regular season finale to clinch a playoff berth, the Boyd football team won 29-13 to secure the fourth seed in 4-3A.

The volleyball team made a run to the 3A semifinal before falling to eventual champion Goliad in five sets. Softball won five of its last six games to force a tiebreaker with Paradise and Bowie for the last two playoff spots in 8-3A, even though they ultimately lost both games.

“Overall, I thought we had a good year,” said athletic director Brandon Hopkins. “Football was getting back going in the right direction. We missed the playoffs [in 2016] but got in this year. We didn’t make it in softball, but we lost some pretty good talent over the past few years. I was proud of them.”

BEST TEAM: VOLLEYBALL

In 2012, Boyd’s volleyball program was still searching for its first district victory.

Last November, the Lady Jackets were two wins from their first state title in school history. Led by all-state outside hitter Jordyn Todd, Boyd made an appearance at the state tournament for the first time, losing to Goliad 3-2.

“Volleyball made a heck of a run to the state semis,” Hopkins said. “The thing about it is we have a chance to be even better this next year. We’ve got three all-staters back.”

In addition to Todd, Boyd also returns middle blocker Laney Pelligrini and libero Larrin Maxwell. All three were tabbed to the Texas Sportswriters Association 3A all-state team.

Todd received first-team honors, burying a school record 580 kills. Pellegrini made the second-team, notching 264 kills and 70 blocks. Maxwell earned third-team honors, tallying a school record 699 digs.

Over the past three seasons under coach Dusty Crafton, the Lady Jackets are 104-22.

“[Crafton] has been great,” Hopkins said. “She came in and definitely changed the culture. She’s done a tremendous job. We’ve had some kids develop as they come in. It’s night and day compared to before she got here.”

BEST SURPRISE: BASEBALL

The Yellowjackets were in the hunt for the 8-3A title most of the season and wound up taking third, finishing the year 15-16-1. They were swept by Peaster in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

Senior Dylan Couture led the charge at the plate for Boyd, earning 8-3A Offensive MVP honors. He also secured 3A second-team all-state honors at third base.

Couture hit .410, driving in 30 runs and smashing two home runs.

Boyd qualified for the postseason for the third year in a row after a lengthy playoff drought. From 2016-2018, the Yellowjackets were 44-45-2 under head coach James Karcher. He left earlier this month for the same job at Cooper High School.

“Coach Karcher did a great job,” Hopkins said. “Their main pitcher [Boston] McIntire is just going to be a junior [next year]. He’s definitely going to help and carry the load.”

Hopkins hired McIntire’s uncle, Brad, as Karcher’s replacement. He was an assistant at Grapevine High School last year.

Boston went 5-4 last season with an ERA of 2.39, striking out 65.

BOYD AT A GLANCE

Sport … ’16-17 record … ’17-18 record … Postseason

Football … 0-10 … 3-8 … Bi-district

Volleyball … 41-5 … 38-8 … State semifinal

Boys basketball … 9-19 … 14-11 … Missed playoffs

Girls basketball … 4-19 … 7-20 … Missed playoffs

Baseball … 16-17-1 … 15-16-1 … Bi-district

Softball … 11-19-1 … 10-19 … Missed playoffs

Track … Boys 2nd in 8-3A, Girls 6th in 8-3A

COACHING CHANGES

Sport … Previous Coach … New Coach

Baseball … James Karcher … Brad McIntire

Boys Track … John Basting … Joe Bounds

Girls Track … Cody Vanover … Oscar Hernandez

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Baseball: Wise County players earn academic all-state


Three Wise County athletes were named to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Academic all-state team.

Noah Baker and Isaac Smith earned all-state honors from Northwest on the 5A squad.

Dylan Couture of Boyd joined the 3A team.

Couture was the District 8-3A Offensive MVP in 2018 and a THSBCA second-team all-state third baseman. He hit .410 for the Yellowjackets in the heart of their order, driving in 30 runs.

He had an on-base plus slugging (OPS) percentage of 1.126 and smashed 13 doubles and two home runs.

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Changing the culture: New Chico athletic director starting fresh


Shaking Things Up

SHAKING THINGS UP – Then-defensive coordinator Clay Sanders coaches during a bi-district playoff game last November. Sanders was hired as athletic director and head coach in March. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

New athletic director and head football coach Clay Sanders has already started changing the culture in Chico.

One of his main points of emphasis has been morning and summer workouts – something Sanders said was a struggle when he arrived in 2017. Last summer, Sanders drove around and picked a few kids up in his truck, but only a dozen participated in the sessions.

A day after he was hired on March 6, Sanders began holding 6:30 a.m. workouts and had 98-99 percent attendance.

“I was told you’ll never get them up here,” Sanders said. “I think the misnomer most people don’t understand is football, basketball and baseball games aren’t really won on game night. They’re won in the offseason, when you put that work in the weight room when others aren’t doing it. I knew we weren’t prepared for that coming into football season [last year]. It was very frustrating and challenging.”

Despite getting into the playoffs for the second straight year, the Dragons went 3-8 overall in 2017 and won just one game in District 5-2A. Chico lost to long-time rival Alvord 15-14 in the regular season finale.

Two months later, former athletic director and head football coach Lane Wilson was put on administrative leave. He and Chico ISD eventually reached terms on a separation agreement in late February.

Wilson is now the offensive coordinator at Paradise.

All Out Effort

ALL-OUT EFFORT – Chico’s Jerod Blanks reaches out to tackle a Valley View runner during a playoff game last year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

COACHING CHANGES:

Since taking the job in early March, Sanders has completely overhauled the coaching staff.

“The first thing I wanted to change was the culture,” Sanders said. “And I don’t think it’s so much changing culture as creating culture. I felt the best way to do that was to clean house. Change everything from the way we tie our shoes to [how we] drink out of the water fountain and how we lift weights and our running form. Top to bottom I felt we needed to create a new culture in Chico.”

Sanders hired Ciandra Seabourn to replace former volleyball coach Jody Carter. Chad Stone was hired as the boys basketball coach, replacing Mark Kyle. His wife, Kim, was hired as the girls basketball coach.

Riley Good, who had a brief stint in the Los Angeles Angels’ minor league system, was hired as Chico’s new baseball coach. He replaced Brian McBeth.

Sanders was the softball coach last year, but he hired Aledo alumn K.K. Pittman to take over that program. Pittman was a member of Aledo’s 2008 state championship team.

Matt Sawyer will be the defensive coordinator and powerlifting coach next year. Andrew Harvey will be the head track coach and an assistant in football. Sanders said he will be calling the plays on offense.

“I went out and found the coaching staff that I truly believe is the best coaching staff in Wise County, if not the region,” Sanders said. “[They] believe in the same things [I] do. They all come from a high-end pedigree. They know how to win and they’re here for the right reasons. We aren’t here to collect rings and trophies for us. We’re here to pull out the greatness of those kids in Chico. We believe in the Chico community and the kids in Chico.”

BEST TEAM: BASEBALL

Chico started the year 9-1, rallying in nearly every win. The Dragons got off to a 4-1 start in District 10-2A and finished in fourth place at 16-11 overall.

Chico forced a decisive Game 3 in the 2A Region II bi-district round against Archer City but lost a late lead to lose 5-4. Senior Jerod Blanks was named Pitcher of the Year in 10-2A, going 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

He struck out 15 in a win against Alvord.

“I was very impressed with the baseball team,” Sanders said. “It was a tumultuous spring. Those kids had no control over what was going on. There were a lot of changes and things happening. A lot of things hard for anybody, much less teenagers to deal with. They still went out and were one game away from beating Archer City – and Archer City went three rounds deep. They were right there on the cusp. They fought and battled all the way to the end of the season.”

BEST SURPRISE: BASKETBALL

The Dragons upset second-place Poolville late in the season to finish league play 5-5 and secure a berth in the playoffs. Chico won two of its last three games entering the postseason.

They faced District 12-2A champion Sam Rayburn in the bi-district round, falling 58-40. The Rebels advanced to the regional quarterfinal before bowing out to state-qualifier Muenster.

Blanks was a first-team selection from 11-2A. He led Chico in scoring, averaging 15.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He shot 80 percent at the free throw line.

Willie Payne earned second-team honors, averaging 5.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per night.

“They challenged [Sam Rayburn] and competed,” Sanders said. “Coach Mark Kyle did a phenomenal job with them. The kids responded and competed. They did a great job getting into the playoffs.”

CHICO AT A GLANCE

Sport … ’16-17 record … ’17-18 record … Postseason

Football … 2-9 … 3-7 … Bi-district

Volleyball … 28-8 … 25-7 … Bi-district

Boys basketball … 8-13 … 7-16 … Bi-district

Girls basketball … Missed playoffs

Baseball … 8-13-1 … 16-11 … Bi-district

Softball … 14-11 … Missed playoffs

Track … Boys 4th, Girls 5th in District 11-2A

COACHING CHANGES

Sport … Previous Coach … New Coach

Football … Lane Wilson … Clay Sanders

Volleyball … Jody Carter … Ciandra Seabourn

Boys basketball … Mark Kyle … Chad Stone

Girls basketball … Jody Carter … Kim Stone

Baseball … Brian McBeth … Riley Good

Softball … Clay Sanders … K.K. Pittman

Track … Andrew Harvey

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Baseball: Boyd’s Couture earns all-state spot


Boyd third baseman Dylan Couture was named to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association second team after hitting .410 in 2018.

The 6-0 senior was the Offensive MVP in District 8-3A, boasting an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of 1.126 and a slugging percentage of .635. He tallied 30 RBIs and hit 13 doubles and two home runs.

Couture had a .462 batting average during district play, leading the Yellowjackets to a third-place league finish and playoff appearance. Former Boyd coach James Karcher said Couture was the leader of the team all season.

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Baseball: Eaton wins 5A title


The Eaton Eagles won the 5A state title Saturday, beating Forney 4-1.

Eaton became the first school in Northwest ISD history to win a baseball state championship.

Senior Riley Taylor held Forney to a run on three hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked three in the title game. He was named state tournament MVP.

Zach Wilson and Sean Klein singled in runs, and Klein scored on a balk in the top of the fifth to put Eaton up 3-1. Eaton added an insurance run in the sixth on Brock Webber’s single.

The Eagles won the semifinal in dramatic fashion, knocking off Kingwood Park 3-2 in extra innings to earn a berth in the title game. Newark resident Colbie Fritchen delivered the walk-off hit in the eighth inning, sneaking a 2-1 pitch just past the outstretched arms of Kingwood Park’s third baseman.

Eaton finished the year 34-9-1 in just its second season playing at the varsity level.

Webber, Klein, Colby Seltzer and Jack Angus earned spots on the all-state tournament team.

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Baseball: Hicks named Offensive MVP


Decatur junior Wilson Hicks was named District 9-4A Offensive MVP, leading the Eagles to an appearance in the 4A Region II quarterfinals.

Hicks hit .380 with an on-base percentage of .455. He was also Decatur’s ace on the mound, pitching 51 innings with a 0.96 ERA. He surrendered only seven earned runs all season.

OFFENSIVE WEAPON – Decatur junior Wilson Hicks was named District 9-4A Offensive MVP. Hicks batted .380 with an on-base percentage of .455. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Other first-team selections for the Eagles included pitcher Bodi Rascon, outfielder Beau Bedford and designated hitter Triston Read.

Rascon boasted a 1.70 ERA, giving up seven earned runs in 39 innings. Bedford batted .312, drove in 14 and had an on-base percentage of .423.

Read – Decatur’s clean-up hitter – slugged 14 doubles, tallied 32 RBIs and struck out only 10 times all season. He had an average of .374.

Bridgeport’s first-team selections included catcher Daniel Delgadillo and outfielder Jadon Maddux.

Delgadillo hit .333 on the year, driving in 20 runs. He committed just one error behind the plate and threw out 20 runners.

Maddox swiped 20 bases, batted .328 and had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

2018 DISTRICT 9-4A BASEBALL TEAM

MVP: Brendon Dixon and Dillon Carter, Argyle

Offensive MVP: Wilson Hicks, Decatur

Defensive MVP: Austin King, Argyle

Pitcher of the Year: Sean Bolin, Argyle

Newcomer of the Year: Alex Gonzales, Argyle

Co-Utility Player of Year: Chad Ricker, Argyle; Luke Pennington, Sanger

FIRST TEAM

Catcher: Daniel Delgadillo, Bridgeport; Draik Sparks, Gainesville

Pitcher: Bodi Rascon, Decatur; Bryson Hudgens, Argyle; Parker Abrego, Argyle; Tristan Flannegan, Krum

Infield: Preston King, Argyle; Cole Lee, Krum; Brooks Garrett, Krum; Hagen Coin, Sanger; Griffyn Welborn, Sanger

Outfield: Beau Bedford, Decatur; Jadon Maddux, Bridgeport; Hayden Clearman, Argyle; Erik Ly, Sanger

Designated Hitter: Triston Read, Decatur

SECOND TEAM

Catcher: Dayne Chapman, Decatur

Pitcher: Chase Oberle, Decatur

Infield: Yobany Ramon, Bridgeport; Eddie Fernandez, Decatur

Outfield: Alec Uselton, Decatur; Michael Cole, Bridgeport

HONORABLE MENTION

Bridgeport: Michael Young, Connor Holzer, Ethan Herschler

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Baseball: Blanks earns Pitcher of the Year


Chico senior Jerod Blanks earned District 10-2A Pitcher of the Year after leading the Dragons to a fourth-place league finish and playoff appearance.

Blanks went 6-1 with an ERA of 3. He started 13 games, threw 46 and two-thirds innings and struck out 81. In a game against Alvord, Blanks fanned 15.

Austin Lacy was the Dragons’ sole first-team selection. He batted .324 and drove in 17.

Tanner Petree was named to the first-team for Alvord. Petree hit .361 with an on-base percentage of .473.

He tallied 24 RBIs and had a .500 average with runners in scoring position.

2018 DISTRICT 10-2A BASEBALL TEAM

MVP: Clay Stevens, Muenster

Offensive MVP: Carson Cheaney, Muenster

Defensive MVP: Carson Trubenbach, Muenster

Pitcher of the Year: Jerod Blanks, Chico

Newcomer of the Year: Seth Foster, Lindsay

Coaching Staff of the Year: Muenster

FIRST TEAM

Pitcher: Stetson McGrew, Muenster; Rodney Bowden, Era

Catcher: Collin Westbrook, Collinsville

Middle Infield: Tanner Petree, Alvord; Garrett Bindel, Muenster; Dillon Hodges, Valley View; Garret Vannoy, Collinsville

First Base: Brandon Sicking, Muenster

Third Base: Parker McGrew, Muenster

Outfield: Austin Lacy, Chico; Kagen Dangelmayr, Muenster; Zane Hughes, Lindsay

Utility: Brandon Craigle, Lindsay

Designated Hitter: Clinton Wallace, Lindsay

SECOND TEAM

Pitcher: Bailey Umphress, Chico

Middle Infield: Kooper Martin, Chico

Outfield: Carson Parker, Alvord

Designated Hitter: Clint Wright, Alvord

HONORABLE MENTION

Chico: Rustyn Fuller, Hank Bailey, Willie Payne, Kenyon Hedrick, Logan Ellis

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Baseball: Eaton one win from state title

Baseball: Eaton one win from state title


Chasing History

CHASING HISTORY – The Eaton Eagles won the 5A semifinal over Kingwood Park 3-2 in extra innings on Thursday. Eaton will play Forney in the championship at noon Saturday. Photo courtesy of Mike Fischer

In just their second season playing at the varsity level, the Eaton Eagles now have the opportunity to play for something else.

A state championship.

Eaton won the 5A semifinal in dramatic fashion, edging Kingwood Park 3-2 in extra innings Thursday. The Eagles will play Forney for the championship at noon Saturday in Round Rock.

“Once the guys realized how good they could really be there was no looking back,” said Eaton coach Jeremy Fatheree. “They don’t question themselves. It doesn’t matter who’s pitching against us or who they’re pitching to. They know they can get it done.”

Several members of the team, like outfielders Colbie Fritchen and Cole Plowman, are from Wise County. Both Fritchen and Plowman live in Newark.

Fritchen delivered the walk-off hit in the eighth inning, sneaking a 2-1 pitch just past the outstretched arms of Kingwood Park’s third baseman.

“It’s been incredible,” said Fritchen of Eaton’s season on Tuesday before heading to Round Rock. “From day one we’ve been working so hard. It’s so exciting. We’ve earned this.”

Eaton went a perfect 14-0 in District 6-5A, capturing its first league championship in school history. They are 32-9-1 overall on the season.

The Eagles won eight straight games to start the playoffs. Eaton beat Denton Ryan in the bi-district round and went on to sweep Grapevine – the state runner up last season and state champion in 2016 – in the area round.

“I told them after they beat Grapevine in two [games], ‘Y’all could win a state championship,'” Fatheree said. “A Northwest ISD baseball program has never been this far. It means a lot.”

After knocking off Richland in a one-game regional quarterfinal series, the Eagles swept Abilene Cooper in the regional semifinal. Eaton’s only playoff loss came in Game 2 of the regional final against Amarillo.

The Eagles are averaging 6.8 runs per game this season. Opponents are managing just 2.9 runs per game against them.

Fatheree credits Eaton’s balanced approach at the plate and getting contributions from every part of the order for the Eagles’ offensive prowess.

“I can’t imagine it’s very easy to pitch to us,” Fatheree said. “When you have your No. 9 hole hitting balls out of college parks and your No. 8 hole is ground-rule doubling to the opposite field, it’s a great thing to have.”

Eaton was the highest ranked team entering the 5A tournament.

The Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association has them ranked 8th. If the Eagles can top Forney on Saturday, they will make history for Eaton High School and Northwest ISD.

And Plowman had a simple message for his hometown of Newark.

“We’re going to win it all,” Plowman said. “We’ve got it for them.”

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Baseball: Pike takes job at Santo – Paradise baseball coach departs


Paradise baseball coach and assistant football coach Nick Pike accepted a defensive coordinator position at Santo High School.

Pike was the Panthers’ head baseball coach the past two years and coached linebackers in football. Paradise was 21-28-1 in his two years at the helm and made the playoffs both seasons.

“It’s meant everything,” Pike said. “I have nothing but respect for Paradise. I think Coach [Joe] Koch is going to do a great job with it. Baseball-wise I think the program is going to have a lot of success. I’m excited for those guys.”

Pike had been with Paradise the past five years, serving as an assistant for the first three seasons. This was Pike’s first coaching job.

Santo went 7-6 last season and advanced to the 2A Region II area round before losing to Albany. The Wildcats finished third in District 2-2A Division II behind Muenster and Lindsay, with opponents averaging 24.9 points per game against them.

“It was something I couldn’t really pass up,” Pike said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

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Baseball: Decatur hosting baseball camp


Decatur High School is hosting a baseball camp for boys grades first through ninth.

The camp runs June 18 to June 21 from 2-5 p.m. each day at the Decatur baseball field.

Pre-registration is $70. It is $80 at the camp. Checks should be made payable to Tommy Maddox.

Group and individual instruction will be given by Decatur staff as well as alumni, collegiate players and other local coaches. Instruction will be given on pitching, relays, base running and bunting.

Each boy must have his own bat, glove and helmet.

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Eaton two wins from first state title in school history


In just their second season playing at the varsity level, the Eaton Eagles now have the opportunity to play for something else.

A state championship.

Eaton won the 5A Region I final series 2-1 over Amarillo last weekend to clinch a berth at the state tournament. The Eagles will play Kingwood Park in the 5A semifinal at 4 p.m. Thursday in Round Rock.

If they win, they will play for the state title at noon Saturday.

CHASING HISTORY — The Eaton Eagles won the 5A Region I title last weekend and are now two victories away from their first state championship in school history. Photo courtesy Mike Fischer.

“Once the guys realized how good they could really be there was no looking back,” said Eaton coach Jeremy Fatheree. “They don’t question themselves. It doesn’t matter who’s pitching against us or who they’re pitching to. They know they can get it done.”

Several members of the team, like outfielders Colbie Fritchen and Cole Plowman, are from Wise County. Both Fritchen and Plowman live in Newark.

“It’s been incredible,” said Fritchen of Eaton’s season. “From day one we’ve been working so hard. It’s so exciting. We’ve earned this.”

Eaton went a perfect 14-0 in District 6-5A, capturing its first league championship in school history. They are 31-9-1 overall on the season.

The Eagles won eight straight games to start the playoffs. Eaton beat Denton Ryan in the bi-district round and went on to sweep Grapevine — the state runner up last season and state champion in 2016 — in the area round.

“I told them after they beat Grapevine in two [games], ‘Y’all could win a state championship,’” Fatheree said. “A Northwest ISD baseball program has never been this far. It means a lot.”

After knocking off Richland in a one-game regional quarterfinal series, the Eagles swept Cooper in the regional semifinal. Eaton’s only playoff loss came in Game 2 against Amarillo.

The Eagles are averaging 6.8 runs per game this season. Opponents are managing just 2.9 runs per game against them.

The Eaton baseball team practiced Tuesday morning in preparation for their 5A state semifinal game on Thursday. Photo courtesy Anthony Tosie, Northwest ISD.

Fatheree credits Eaton’s balanced approach at the plate and getting contributions from every part of the order for the Eagles’ offensive prowess.

“I can’t imagine it’s very easy to pitch to us,” Fatheree said. “When you have your No. 9 hole hitting balls out of college parks and your No. 8 hole is ground-rule doubling to the opposite field, it’s a great thing to have.”

Eaton’s opponent in the semifinal — Kingwood Park — is 32-12 on the year. The Eagles are the highest ranked team in 5A entering the state tournament.

The Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association has them ranked 8th. The winner of Eaton and Kingwood Park will play the winner of Forney and Corpus Christi Veterans for the championship.

And Plowman had a simple message for his hometown of Newark.

“We’re going to win it all,” Plowman said. “We’ve got it for them.”

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Baseball: Eaton advances to state


The Eaton Eagles won the 5A Region I title with a 2-1 series win over Amarillo last weekend. Eaton beat the Sandies 8-4 in Game 1 and 6-1 in Game 3 to secure a berth in Round Rock.

Several members of the Eaton team, including Colby Fritchen, Cole Plowman and Mike Hoover are from Wise County. The Eagles boast a 31-9-1 record and went undefeated in District 6-5A play.

The Eagles will take on Kingwood Park in the 5A semifinal at 4 p.m. Thursday.

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Baseball: Karcher leaves Boyd – Baseball coach departs after five seasons


Boyd baseball coach James Karcher is leaving for the same position at Cooper High School.

Karcher recently finished his fifth season with the Yellowjackets. Boyd went 15-16-1 this year and finished third in District 8-3A.

“He did a good job,” said Boyd athletic director Brandon Hopkins. “We’ve had some good kids roll through here and he’s done a good job with them getting them in the playoffs.”

The Yellowjackets advanced to the postseason for the third straight year, but lost to Peaster in the bi-district round. Boyd went 44-45-2 over the past three seasons.

Senior Dylan Couture was named District 8-3A Offensive MVP for his efforts this year. He hit .462 at the plate and drove in 17 runs. The Yellowjackets had three players selected to the first-team.

“Overall I’m pleased with what we’ve done,” Karcher said. “The first year we won eight games and the last three years I think we’ve won 15, 16 and [17] games. It’s my understanding that really hasn’t been done in a while around here. It makes me proud of the kids that I’ve coached. They put a bunch of hard work and dedication into the program. “

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Baseball: Crandall stuns Decatur – Pirates mount seventh inning rally to win series

Baseball: Crandall stuns Decatur – Pirates mount seventh inning rally to win series


Stunning Finish

STUNNING FINISH – Crandall outfielder Jake Redding celebrates after the Pirates scored the winning run to beat Decatur 6-5. Crandall swept the 4A Region II quarterfinal series 2-0. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur had Crandall on the ropes Friday in Game 2 of the 4A Region II quarterfinal.

With a chance to force a decisive Game 3 Saturday afternoon, the Eagles took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. But in a matter of minutes, Decatur’s advantage evaporated.

The Pirates mounted a two-out, three-run rally in the final frame to stun the Eagles with a 6-5 walk-off victory at McKinney North to sweep of the series.

“I’m proud of this bunch,” said Decatur coach Tommy Maddox. “I asked them to lay it on the line today and they did. They played well enough and did things well enough to win the game. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”

Falling Just Short

FALLING JUST SHORT – Decatur players walk off the field after losing 6-5 to Candall in Game 2 of the 4A Region II quarterfinal series. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Down to their final out, Crandall shortstop Arturo Cindo laced a pitch that trickled past right fielder Seth Hakanson for a triple. First baseman Blake Sacharka immediately plated Cindo on a fly ball to center that got by the outstretched arms of a diving Alec Uselton.

With the tying run at second, Maddox made a move to the bullpen and brought in Chase Oberle for Beau Bedford. After a wild pitch moved Sacharka to third, catcher Kyle Brett tied the game with an RBI-triple.

Jerry Brian then delivered the knock-out blow, belting a pitch over shortstop Eddie Fernandez into left field to complete the comeback and send Crandall to the next round.

“It’s easy to say if we keep those balls in front of us they probably don’t go for as many bases. But guys selling out trying to make the final out – you never can get mad at that,” Maddox said. “We had two outs and they had four bloop hits in a row. That’s the way it goes.”

The Eagles jumped on the Pirates early, racing out to a 4-0 lead. Catcher Dayne Chapman got the scoring started with an opposite-field double in the top of the second. Chapman tattooed an offering from Crandall starter Cory Vollmer that brought Uselton around to score.

Decatur got another run in the inning on alert base running from Barrett Brown, who scampered in to score on an errant throw to third. Wilson Hicks and Chapman tallied RBI-doubles in the third to double the Eagles’ lead behind starter Bodi Rascon.

Chapman finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

Rascon lasted five innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He struck out nine and walked four.

“I was pleased with everybody,” Maddox said. “I felt like everybody gave it everything they had. The whole series felt like we probably hit the ball harder and on the button more than they did, but somehow we hit it right at them. It’s just the way this game goes sometimes.”

Decatur ended the season 20-16 in Maddox’s first year at the helm. The Eagles finished third in District 9-4A and went on to beat Dallas Pinkston in bi-district and Princeton in the area round.

Maddox said the future of Decatur baseball is bright, with most of the Eagles’ starters returning next year.

“There’s a good chance we have nine guys that have started playoff games coming back. That’s a huge deal,” Maddox said. “We knew we were a young team this year, and sometimes it showed up. These are games and situations that you’re going to get better from, as frustrating as it is.”

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