Alvord sweeps Chico

Ace Edgett threw a complete game to propel Alvord past Chico 7-1 Friday night.

Edgett gave up one run, scattering 10 hits. He struck out six and issued two walks.

Hunter Richey was a perfect 3-for-3, tallying four RBIs.

The Bulldogs swept the season series from the Dragons and improved to 5-3 in District 10-2A. Chico fell to 4-6 in 10-2A.

Alvord will travel to Lindsay Thursday. The Dragons headed to Muenster Tuesday.

BURKBURNETT 9, BRIDGEPORT 4

Bridgeport fell in non-district action to Burkburnett 9-4 Friday night.

Corbin Bailey, Daniel Delgadillo and Michael Marschall each drove in a run.

Kyler Holley took the loss for the Bulls. He scattered nine runs on 12 hits over four innings.

Bridgeport was back in District 8-4A action Tuesday against Krum.

BOYD 5, PEASTER 1

Boston McIntire struck out eight over four innings, leading Boyd to a 5-1 win over Peaster Friday night.

The Yellowjackets’ ace gave up two hits and no runs. Whitt Hill entered in relief and scattered one run on two hits.

Brian Couture went 1-for-3, collecting three RBIs. Boyd moved to 15-7-1 and 7-3 in District 7-3A.

The Yellowjackets welcomed in first-place Brock Tuesday.

PARADISE 6, MILLSAP 1

Trey Valentine drove in three runs in Paradise’s 6-1 win over Millsap Friday night.

Valentine went 2-for-3. Cade Goodman finished 2-for-4.

On the mound, Valentine allowed two hits in three scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Parker Cook pitched two hitless innings.

The Panthers improved to 13-8-2 and 7-3 in District 7-3A. Paradise hosted Peaster Tuesday

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Read leads Decatur past Bridgeport

Triston Read drove in three runs Friday night, leading Decatur to an 8-0 win over Bridgeport.

Read went 2-for-3 at the dish and scored a run. Bodi Rascon was also 2-for-3, collecting two RBIs and a walk.

Wilson Hicks and Chase Oberle combined for six scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts.

The Eagles improved to 21-3 and 2-1 in District 8-4A. Decatur took on Springtown Tuesday at home.

The Bulls dropped to 0-4 in 8-4A. Bridgeport welcomed in Burkburnett Tuesday in non-district action.

POOLVILLE 4, ALVORD 1

Alvord could not catch up to Poolville in a 4-1 loss Friday night.

Ace Edgett took the loss for the Bulldogs. He surrendered four runs on 12 hits, striking out eight.

William Martin drove in Alvord’s only run of the game.

The Bulldogs fell to 3-3 in District 10-2A and played host to Saint Jo Tuesday.

SAINT JO 11, CHICO 8

Chico gave up a late lead Friday night as Saint Jo came away with an 11-8 victory.

The Panthers tallied nine runs in the final two innings. The Dragons led 6-2 through the four frames.

TJ Milam gave up four runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning in relief. Chico starter Austin Lacy struck out seven over five innings, scattering two runs on four hits.

The loss dropped the Dragons to 3-5 in District 10-2A. Chico headed to Perrin-Whitt Tuesday.

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Rascon fans 17, no-hits Stephenville

Stephenville was unable to solve Bodi Rason Friday night, as the Decatur senior no-hit the Yellowjackets in a 4-0 victory.

Rascon struck out 17 and walked three over seven innings.

Chase Oberle went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs.

The Eagles improved to 17-2 and opened District 8-4A play at home Tuesday against Krum.

BROCK 2, BOYD 0

No. 1 Brock squeaked by Boyd 2-0 Friday night.

The Eagles scored a run in the first and second inning, chasing starter Lane Wilson.

Ethan Wilson entered in relief and did not surrender a run in four and one-thirds innings. He struck out six.

It was the Yellowjackets’ first loss in District 7-3A play. Boyd is now 11-5-1 and 3-1 in league play.

The Yellowjackets traveled to Breckenridge Tuesday.

PARADISE 8, PEASTER 1

Parker Cook threw a complete-game as Paradise downed Peaster 8-1 Friday night.

Cook gave up one run on two hits, striking out eight. At the plate, he was 1-for-2 with a walk, driving in two.

Jace Essig went 2-for-3 at the dish with a walk and two RBIs.

The Panthers improved to 9-6-2 and 3-1 in District 7-3A. Paradise went to Tolar Tuesday.

ALVORD 4, HEALDTON, OKLA. 0

Gabe Potter and Kaleb Crable combined for a shutout Friday as Alvord blanked Healdton 4-0 in four innings.

The Bulldogs were back in District 10-2A action Tuesday in Lindsay.

MUENSTER 13, CHICO 4

Muenster ran away from Chico 13-4 Friday night.

The Dragons fell to 2-3 in District 10-2A. Chico headed to Poolville Tuesday.

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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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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: 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: Dragons lose late lead – Chico drops bi-district series to Archer City

Falling Just Short

FALLING JUST SHORT – Chico senior Jerod Blanks reacts after being doubled off first base to end the game. The Dragons lost to Archer City 5-4, ending their season. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

The Chico Dragons never stopped believing Saturday against Archer City.

After falling behind 3-0 in the second inning, Chico fought all the way back to take the lead in the fifth. The Dragons mounted a two-out rally that Kooper Martin capped with a ringing RBI-single to give Chico a 4-3 lead.

But the Dragons could not hold on to it. The Wildcats mounted a rally of their own in the sixth, scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly to escape with a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the 2A Region II bi-district round series at Bowie.

Archer City won the series 2-1.

Big Start

BIG START – Chico’s Kenyon Hedrick pitches in a playoff game against Archer City. Hedrick gave up three runs in the 5-4 loss. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

“These kids have never stopped fighting, even with all the adversity they have faced and things out of their control,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “It’s that belief – Dragon magic and Dragon pride.”

Sophomore southpaw Kenyon Hedrick made his first start of the year for Chico in the decisive Game 3.

After giving up three runs in the first two innings, Hedrick settled down and did not allow another run. He scattered three runs on eight hits, striking out one and walking four.

“I was ecstatic the way he performed,” McBeth said. “He kept us in the ballgame. That’s all I could ask from him.”

The Dragons got on the board in the top of the third during a two-out rally.

Bailey Umphress battled back from an 0-2 count and drilled a pitch into the left field gap to score a run. Rustyn Fuller followed up Umphress’ RBI with one of his own, sending a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to plate senior Jerod Blanks.

Chico held Archer City in check until the sixth when Willie Payne hit the lead-off batter and ran into trouble. The Wildcats lofted a deep fly ball to right that Hedrick got turned around on and missed, leading to a run. With a runner at third and one out, Conner Byrd brought home the deciding run on a sacrifice fly into left.

The Dragons tried to make one final rally in the seventh, as Blanks reached base with a one-out single. Umphress then hit a soft line drive to Archer City’s second baseman, who dove and doubled Blanks off first to end the game.

Chico finished its season 16-11 overall. The Dragons took fourth place in District 11-2A.

“Even though it didn’t go the way we [wanted] it to – and Coach [McBeth] has said it – this has probably been the most fun year he’s had, just because of the stuff we have been through and the stuff we have overcome,” Blanks said. “It’s been really fun. I’ve enjoyed it.”

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Chico loses late lead in Game 3 loss to Archer City

The Chico Dragons never stopped believing Saturday against Archer City.

Despite quickly falling behind 3-0 in the second inning, Chico fought all the way back to take the lead in the fifth. The Dragons mounted a two-out rally that Kooper Martin capped with a ringing RBI-single into right field to give Chico a 4-3 lead.

But the Dragons could not hold onto it. The Wildcats mounted a rally of their own in the sixth, scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly to escape with a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the 2A Region II bi-district round at Bowie. Archer City won the series 2-1.

Chico senior Jerod Blanks reacts after being doubled off first base to end the game. The Dragons fell to Archer City 5-4 in Game 3. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt.

“These kids have never stopped fighting, even with all the adversity they have faced and things out of their control,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “It’s that belief. Dragon magic and dragon pride.”

Sophomore southpaw Kenyon Hedrick made his first start of the year for Chico in the decisive Game 3.

After giving up three runs in the first two innings, Hedrick settled down and did not allow another run. He scattered three runs on eight hits, striking out one and walking four.

“I was ecstatic the way he performed,” McBeth said. “He kept us in the ballgame. That’s all I could ask from him.”

The Dragons got on the board in the top of the third during a two-out rally.

Bailey Umphress battled back from an 0-2 count and drilled a pitch into the left field gap to score a run. Rustyn Fuller followed up Umphress’ RBI with one of his own, sending a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to plate Jerod Blanks.

Chico held Archer City in check until the sixth, but Willie Payne hit the lead-off batter and ran into trouble. The Wildcats lofted a deep fly ball to right that Hedrick got turned around on and missed, leading to a run. With a runner at third and one out, Conner Byrd brought home the deciding run on a sacrifice fly into left.

Chico sophomore Kenyon Hedrick pitches in a playoff game against Archer City. Hedrick threw five innings in a 5-4 loss in Game 3. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt.

The Dragons tried to make one final rally in the seventh, as Blanks reached base with a one-out single. Umphress then hit a soft line drive to Archer City’s second baseman, who dove and double Blanks off first to end the game.

Chico ended its season 16-11 overall. The Dragons took fourth place in District 11-2A.

“Even though it didn’t go the way we [wanted] it to — and Coach [McBeth] has said it — this has probably been the most fun year he’s had, just because of the stuff we have been through and the stuff we have overcome,” Blanks said. “It’s been really fun. I’ve enjoyed it.”

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Baseball: Decatur clinches playoff berth – Rascon’s grand slam propels Eagles past Bulls

Touch Em All

TOUCH ‘EM ALL – Decatur’s Bodi Rascon is greeted by teammates after hitting a grand slam. Rascon’s blast gave the Eagles the lead for good in a 6-2 victory over Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Bodi Rascon turned the game around in one swing last Friday against rival Bridgeport.

With the bases loaded and the score tied at two, Rascon teed off on a fastball, depositing Corbin Bailey’s pitch over the right field fence for a grand slam. Rascon’s fourth-inning blast gave Decatur the lead for good in a 6-2 victory over the Bulls.

IN A GROOVE – Decatur junior Wilson Hicks pitches during a game against Bridgeport. Hicks struck out nine in a 6-2 win. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“[Bailey] was throwing the same thing,” Rascon said. “The second at-bat I lined him up down the middle and relaxed, and that third one I was just confident I was going to get a base hit. It felt really good. I knew it was gone. I just didn’t want to celebrate it too much.”

Decatur claimed the third seed in District 9-4A with the win and Sanger’s loss to Krum. The Eagles will face Dallas Pinkston in the bi-district round. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. Thursday in Decatur. Game 2 is at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Pinkston. Game 3, if necessary, would follow.

Bridgeport entered the game fighting for its playoff life. The Bulls needed a win to force a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots in 9-4A between Sanger and Decatur. Instead, the Bulls’ season ended at 3-7 in district.

Southpaw Wilson Hicks got the nod for Decatur on the mound. Hicks gave up only one hit in the final six innings. He sat the Bulls down in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings, pitching a complete-game.

Hicks finished the night with nine strikeouts. He struck out the side in the top of the third, freezing Daniel Delgadillo with an off-speed pitch.

“Our gameplan was get guys on base and bunt them over – do some things like that to really get [Hicks] out of his rhythm,” said Bridgeport coach Ted Leps. “Once he gets going, he’s pretty hard to hit. There was one inning where he didn’t throw more than 10 pitches. Our goal against any ace is to get to the bullpen, and we weren’t able to do that.”

Hicks allowed his only two runs in the first inning. The junior walked the first batter of the game and then made an errant throw to second base, putting two runners aboard. Bridgeport’s Ethan Herschler gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI-single to center.

“Whenever you walk the lead-off batter, it’s always hard,” Hicks said. “The first inning was on me. I just went out there, relaxed, got in a rhythm and pounded the strike zone. I got ahead and worked ahead. I got in a good groove by the third [inning].”

The Eagles got a run back in the bottom of the first on a bad pickoff throw to first. As Hicks continued to keep Bridgeport off the board, Decatur started to solve Bailey until finally breaking through in the fourth with Rascon’s bases-clearing grand slam.

The Bulls ended their season 9-17 overall. The Eagles finished 16-13 overall and 5-5 in district.

Decatur advanced to the 4A Region II finals last year, falling to Texarkana Pleasant Grove one series shy of the state tournament,

“Once we knew we weren’t going to win [district] and couldn’t finish second, our goal was to get into the top part of the bracket. We did that,” said Decatur coach Tommy Maddox. “It’s week-by-week now. It doesn’t matter how you get in [the playoffs]. You get in, get on a roll and hopefully take care of some business.”

BASEBALL

4A Region II bi-district
Decatur vs. Dallas Pinkston
Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday at Decatur
Game 2: 4:30 p.m. Friday at Pinkston
Game 3, if necessary: Immediately after Game 2

3A Region I bi-district
Boyd vs. Peaster
Game 1: 4:30 p.m. Friday at Graford
Game 2: 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Graford
Game 3, if necessary: Immediately after Game 2

3A Region I bi-district
Paradise vs. Brock
Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday at Weatherford College
Game 2: 5 p.m. Friday at Weatherford College
Game 3, if necessary: Immediately after Game 3

2A Region II bi-district
Chico vs. Archer City
Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday at Bowie
Game 2: 7 p.m. Friday at Bowie
Game 3, if necessary: 2 p.m. Saturday

SOFTBALL

4A Region II Area
Melissa vs Decatur
7 p.m. Thursday at Prosper

RESULTS

4A Region II bi-district
Decatur 21, Dallas Roosevelt 0

2A Region II
Perrin-Whitt 7, Alvord 2
Perrin-Whitt wins series 2-0

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Baseball: Krum sweeps Eagles

Decatur fell behind 7-0 after two innings and could not catch up to Krum, losing 7-4 Tuesday.

The Bobcats took both games from the Eagles this season.

Beau Bedford got the start for Decatur. He surrendered seven runs on six hits in four innings. Bryson Oates and Bodi Rascon each threw scoreless innings of relief out of the bullpen.

Triston Read continued his hot streak at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Dayne Chapman went 1-for-3 and also drove in a run.

The Eagles dropped to 14-12 overall and 3-4 in District 9-4A.

ARGYLE 12, BRIDGEPORT 0

No. 1 Argyle rolled Bridgeport 12-0 as two pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.

Conner Holzer took the loss for the Bulls. He gave up nine runs on 10 hits in three innings of work. Michael Young threw two innings of relief, scattering three runs on two hits.

Bridgeport fell to 8-15 and 2-5 in District 9-4A.

BOYD 13, NOCONA 3

Boston McIntire threw a complete-game and Boyd pummeled Nocona 13-3.

The sophomore scattered three runs on nine hits in seven innings. He struck out six.

The Yellowjackets scored five runs in the fifth inning. Rustyn Ellis and Lane Wilson each collected RBIs in the frame. Ellis drove in two runs and Wilson tallied three RBIs.

Dylan Couture went 2-for-3 and plated three runs.

Boyd improved to 8-3 in District 9-4A.

PARADISE 21, CITY VIEW 1

Trevor Helton drove in six runs and Paradise thumped City View 21-1 in five innings.

The Panthers scored 10 runs in the fifth inning to seal the victory. Mitchell Sellars went 3-for-5 at the plate and collected three RBIs. Jace Essig went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

Mikey Passariello earned the win for Paradise, allowing one hit in two scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

Paradise moved to 6-5 in District 9-4A.

ALVORD 15, ERA 4

Alvord used a seven-run first inning to rout Era 15-4.

Wright Clint led the Bulldogs at the dish. He went 2-for-2 with a walk and drove in two runs.

Ace Edgett picked up the win for Alvord. He gave up four runs on four hits over four innings. He struck out five and walked five.

The Bulldogs moved to 5-7 in District 11-2A.

COLLINSVILLE 6, CHICO 5

Chico fell to Collinsville 6-5. The Dragons dropped to 6-5 in District 11-2A.

Chico has lost four of its last five games.

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Baseball: Read’s big day fuels Decatur

Triston Read drove in seven runs as Decatur thumped Gainesville 13-1 in five innings. Read went 2-for-3 at the plate and hit a grand slam in the third inning.

Chase Oberle got the nod for the Eagles on the mound. He allowed one run on two hits in four innings, striking out five.

Decatur tallied 12 hits. Read, Eddie Fernandez, Bodi Rascon and Dayne Chapman all had multi-hit games.

The Eagles improved to 14-10 overall and 3-3 in District 9-4A. Decatur will travel to Krum Tuesday.

KRUM 9, BRIDGEPORT 1

Krum used a six-run second inning to run away from Bridgeport 9-1.

Corbin Bailey suffered the loss, giving up eight runs on six hits in four innings. He struck out four and walked four.

Daniel Delgadillo had the Bulls’ only hit of the game.

Bridgeport fell to 8-14 overall and 2-4 in District 9-4A. The Bulls will host No. 1 Argyle Tuesday.

PARADISE 4, BOYD 3

Paradise stayed in the thick of the District 8-3A playoff race with a 4-3 walk-off victory over rival Boyd.

The Panthers trailed 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, but got two runs in the frame to come away with the win. Colby Cox knocked in the deciding run for Paradise on a double.

Parker Cook went the distance for the Panthers on the hill, scattering three runs on two hits over seven innings. He struck out five.

Creighton Witt got the start for the Yellowjackets and surrendered two runs on four hits over five innings. He struck out eight.

Paradise improved to 5-5 in district. Boyd dropped to 7-3 in league play and has lost two straight.

The Panthers will travel to City View Tuesday. The Yellowjackets will travel to Nocona.

CHICO 9, ALVORD 6

Chico snapped a three-game losing skid with a 9-6 victory over rival Alvord.

Jerod Blanks went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Dragons with a walk. He also started the game for Chico, scattering four runs on six hits. He struck out nine.

Clayton Machal took the loss for the Bulldogs. He surrendered nine runs on 12 hits over five and two-thirds innings.

The Dragons scored a run in every inning except the fifth. All but one Chico player tallied a hit.

Alvord dropped to 4-7 in District 11-2A. The Dragons improved to 6-4 in league play.

The Bulldogs will host Era Tuesday. Chico will play Collinsville.

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Baseball: Boyd drops pivotal game to Holliday

Making the Play

MAKING THE PLAY – Yellowjacket third baseman Whitt Hill throws to first to retire a batter. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

With first place in District 8-3A on the line, Boyd could not hold on to a slim lead, falling to Holliday 3-1.

The Yellowjackets managed just one hit, but took an early lead on an error by the Eagles.

Boston McIntire got the start for Boyd and went five and two-thirds innings, scattering two runs on three hits. He struck out five.

Creighton Witt pitched one and one-thirds innings of relief.

Payton Brown had the Yellowjackets’ only hit of the game.

The loss snapped Boyd’s six-game winning steak and dropped the Yellowjackets to 13-11-1 overall and 7-2 in district play. Boyd traveled to Paradise Friday.

PARADISE 10, NOCONA 0

Mikey Passariello threw a complete-game shutout as Paradise blanked Nocona 10-0.

Passariello surrendered one hit in six innings of work. He struck out 11.

Cade Goodman led the Panthers at the plate, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs.

Paradise put up six runs in the sixth inning with Goodman, Mitchell Sellers, Will Reeves and Colby Cox driving in runs.

The Panthers improved to 4-5 in District 8-3A. Paradise hosted Nocona Friday.

MUENSTER 10, ALVORD 0

Muenster jumped out to a 10-run lead and never looked back, routing Alvord 10-0.

The Bulldogs surrendered 15 hits in five innings. Alvord was held to just one hit.

Tanner Petree got the start for the Bulldogs and scattered seven runs on seven hits.

Alvord fell to 4-6 in District 11-2A. The Bulldogs traveled to Chico Friday.

SAINT JO 8, CHICO 4

Chico’s was unable to snap its losing streak against Saint Jo, falling 8-4.

The Dragons have lost three games in a row. Chico dropped to 5-4 in District 11-2A. The Dragons hosted rival Alvord Friday.

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Baseball: Bridgeport upsets Sanger

Bridgeport exploded for 10 runs in the sixth inning Friday to upset Sanger 10-7 at home.

Corbin Bailey plated the winning run for the Bulls, singling on a 1-0 count. Daniel Delgadillo went 2-for-4 at the plate and collected two RBIs. Jadon Maddux was 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks.

Bailey also earned the win on the mound. He surrendered seven runs on nine hits in six innings. He struck out three. Michael Young closed the game out, pitching a scoreless seventh inning to slam the door.

Bridgeport improved to 8-12 overall and 2-2 in District 9-4A. The Bulls hosted rival Decatur Tuesday.

On the Mound

ON THE MOUND – Decatur’s Bodi Rascon pitches against Argyle. Rascon allowed two runs in three hitless innings. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

ARGYLE 8, DECATUR 2

Decatur dropped its third straight game Friday, falling to No. 1 Argyle 10-2.

Bodi Rascon started for Decatur. He allowed two runs in three hitless innings. He struck out seven and walked five.

Chase Oberle threw four innings of relief, scattering six runs on 10 hits.

Argyle did most of its damage in the late innings, scoring one run in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh. Decatur held Argyle scoreless through the first two frames.

Wilson Hicks led Decatur at the dish, going 2-for-3. Triton Read went 1-for-3 in the leadoff spot, driving in one run.

Decatur fell to 12-10 overall and 1-3 in District 9-4A. They traveled to Bridgeport Tuesday.

BOYD 11, BOWIE 2

Boyd extended its winning streak to six games Friday, routing Bowie 11-2.

The Yellowjackets scored nine runs in the second inning to build a quick lead. Creighton Witt, Rustyn Ellis and Dylan Couture all singled in the frame. Alex Booth walked.

Witt ended the night 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Couture went 2-for-5 and also drove in two runs.

Witt also earned the win on the mound. He went four and two-thirds innings, surrendering two runs on four hits. He struck out seven and walked one. Jacob Faust pitched two scoreless innings in relief.

Boyd improved to 13-10-1 overall and 7-1 in District 8-3A. The Yellowjackets hosted Holliday Tuesday with a chance to move into a tie for first place with a win.

HOLLIDAY 5, PARADISE 3

With the game tied at three in the bottom of the fourth, Holliday’s Ethan Greer tripled on a 1-1 count to score the winning run in a 5-3 win over Paradise Friday.

The Panthers scored two runs in the first inning and added a run in the third. Mitchell Sellars led Paradise at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a walk. He tallied two RBIs.

Parker Cook took the loss for the Panthers. He gave up five runs on five hits in four innings of work. Cook struck out two.

Paradise dropped to 3-5 in District 8-3A. The Panthers hosted Nocona Tuesday.

VALLEY VIEW 14, ALVORD 2

Valley View ran away from Alvord 14-2 Friday in five innings.

The Eagles scored a run in every inning and blew the game open in the fourth, plating seven runs.

Daidrain Locklear took the loss for the Bulldogs. He gave up five runs on 10 hits in two innings. Tanner Petree and Clayton Machal threw innings of relief out of the bullpen.

Petree went one and two-thirds innings, allowing eight runs on nine hits. Machal gave up a run on four hits.

The Bulldogs fell to 4-5 in District 11-2A. Alvord hosted Tioga Tuesday.

LINDSAY 3, CHICO 1

Chico was unable to string together timely hits Friday against Lindsay, falling to the Knights 3-1. The Dragons dropped to 5-3 in District 11-2A.

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Baseball: Northwest shuts out Boswell

Brendan Parker threw a complete game one-hitter to lead Northwest past Boswell 1-0 Tuesday.

Parker struck out five in seven innings of work, needing only 78 pitches.

Hunter Adkins drove in the only run of the game in the first inning on a single. Jayden Smith went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Texans.

Northwest improved to 8-14 overall and 5-3 in District 6-5A. The Texans hosted Boswell Friday.

BRIDGEPORT 15, GAINESVILLE 5

Bridgeport rolled Gainesville 15-5 Tuesday. The Bulls used an offensive explosion to quickly mount a 10-1 lead by the third inning.

Bridgeport scored five runs in both the first and second frames.

Daniel Delgadillo got the scoring started on an RBI-double. He led the Bulls at the dish, going a perfect 3-for-3.

Connor Holzer earned the win. He went five innings, allowing five runs on five hits. He struck out eight and walked one.

The Bulls moved to 7-12 overall and 1-2 in District 9-4A with the victory. Bridgeport played Sanger Friday.

PARADISE 7, BOWIE 2

Mikey Passariello tied a school record Tuesday, striking out 17 in Paradise’s 7-2 win over Bowie.

Passariello quickly settled down after giving up a leadoff triple and home run to the first two batters of the game. The Jackrabbits never recorded a hit after that.

Paradise took the lead in the third inning when Jace Essig and Mitchell Sellars collected RBIs. Essig doubled home two runs and Sellars singled to put the Panthers up for good.

Paradise improved to 3-4 in District 8-3A with the win. The Panthers traveled to Holliday on Friday.

BOYD 14, JACKSBORO 1

The Yellowjackets extended their winning streak to five games Tuesday, routing Jacksboro 14-1.

Brian Couture drove in five runs for Boyd in the win. He singled in the third, tripled in the fifth and singled in the seventh. Couture went 3-for-5 at the plate with a walk.

The Yellowjackets scored a run in every inning except the second. Creighton Witt and Boston McIntire combined to limit the Tigers to just one run.

Witt got the start, allowing five hits in three and two-thirds scoreless innings. He struck out four.

McIntire entered in relief and threw three and one-thirds innings, giving up one run on three hits. He struck out five.

Boyd moved to 12-10-1 overall and 6-1 in District 8-3A. The Yellowjackets went to Bowie Friday.

KEY VICTORY – Alvord’s Ace Edgett pitches in a game against Saint Jo Tuesday. The Bulldogs came away with a 10-7 win. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

ALVORD 10, SAINT JO 7

Alvord survived a six-run third inning by Saint Jo Tuesday, beating the Panthers 10-7.

Ace Edgett got the start for the Bulldogs but only lasted two and two-thirds innings. He gave up six runs on eight hits.

Clayton Machal threw three innings of relief, giving up one run on four hits. He struck out six. Tanner Petree closed the game out, giving up one hit over the final one and one-thirds innings.

Petree led Alvord at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.

The Bulldogs improved to 8-8 overall and 4-4 in District 11-2A. Alvord hosted Valley View Friday.

VALLEY VIEW 9, CHICO 7

Chico could not overcome an early four-run deficit in Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to Valley View.

The Eagles put four runs on the board in the first inning. Jerod Blanks got the start for Chico and went five innings, scattering five runs on six hits. He struck out 10.

Logan Ellis, Bailey Umphress and Kooper Martin had multi-hit days for the Dragons. Umphress went 2-for-3 with a walk.

The loss dropped Chico to 10-4 on the season and 5-2 in District 11-2A.

BASEBALL STANDINGS AS OF FRIDAY, APRIL 6

DISTRICT 6-5A

1. Eaton … 7-0
2. Azle … 5-1
3. Northwest … 5-3
4. Aledo … 4-4
5. Brewer … 2-4
6. Boswell … 2-5
7. Chisholm Trail … 1-5
8. Saginaw … 1-6

DISTRICT 9-4A

1. Argyle … 3-0
2. Sanger … 2-1
2. Krum … 2-1
4. Decatur … 1-2
4. Bridgeport … 1-2
6. Gainesville … 0-3

DISTRICT 8-3A

1. Holliday … 7-0
2. Boyd … 6-1
3 Jacksboro … 5-2
4. Paradise … 3-4
4. Bowie … 3-4
4. Henrietta … 3-4
7. Nocona … 1-6
8. City View … 0-7

DISTRICT 11-2A

1. Muenster … 7-0
2. Chico … 5-2
3. Lindsay … 5-3
4. Valley View … 4-3
5. Alvord … 4-4
6. Collinsville … 3-5
7. Era … 2-6
8. Saint Jo … 1-4
9. Tioga … 0-4

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Life’s curveball: Blanks overcomes parents’ death

Life’s curveball: Blanks overcomes parents’ death

Life s Curveball

“Within less than five months I’d lost my mom and dad. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.” Jerod Blanks. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Jerod Blanks took a long swig from his nearly empty Powerade bottle. His eyes darted around before he eventually settled on a spot off in the horizon.

He cleared his throat a few times and looked up before beginning his story.

It was Game 3 of the 2016 2A Region II area round. After going unbeaten in the regular season, Chico’s season suddenly rested on Jerod’s right arm.

Throughout the game, Jerod stepped off the rubber numerous times and gazed into the outfield. Each time, Jerod said he saw his late parents, Keith and Linda. Laboring through a 136-pitch complete game, Jerod propelled Chico past Muenster 6-5 and into the next round.

“He pitched his [rear end] off,” Chico coach Brian McBeth recalled.

Jerod scattered five runs on seven hits, throwing a scoreless seventh inning to seal the deal. Looking back, Jerod has no doubt his parents were with him on the diamond that spring night.

“It was crazy,” Jerod said. “I felt both of them behind the mound with me the entire game. Most definitely [my parents impacted that game]. That was the game my sister was like, ‘I know you felt them out there.’ And I was like, ‘You’re dang right I did.'”

Locked In

LOCKED IN – Chico senior Jerod Blanks pitches in a game against Alvord on March 20. Blanks struck out 15 batters in a 4-1 victory. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

MOMMA’S BOY

In October 2011, Jerod was in sixth grade and his parents’ divorce had just been finalized a few months earlier in May. Jerod had a pee-wee football game Saturday morning, and had stayed with his grandparents the night before.

In the minutes leading up to kickoff, Jerod remembers looking into the stands and not seeing his mom. The alarm bells soon started ringing in his head. Linda was always at his games.

Shortly after, Keith took Jerod off the field and they drove to Linda’s house. When they got there, the door was locked and no one was answering. What happened next is something Jerod said will stick with him forever.

“We went to the house and my dad and the cops kicked the door down,” Jerod said. “She still had her night glasses on [and was] on the couch. She passed away in her sleep.

“I still have the vivid image in my head of them kicking down the door. When my dad pulled me out of the game I knew something was wrong.”

Autopsy results revealed Linda died from cardiac hypertrophy. This condition arises when the walls of a ventricle thicken or become abnormally enlarged. It is typically associated with hypertension and can cause the interruption of blood supply to the heart, leading to heart failure.

Jerod’s sister, Kelcey, who was studying at Texas Tech University, rushed home from school. Within four hours of hearing the news, she was home with her other brother Jeremy, Jerod and Keith.

Although they had just lost their mother, more issues continued to arise.

“After my mom died, it kind of went downhill even worse,” Jerod said.

Holding Memories

HOLDING MEMORIES – Jerod remembers happier times with his parents. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I WOULDN’T WISH IT ON MY WORST ENEMY.”

Keith had been struggling with bipolar disorder. Both Kelcey and Jerod believe his mental illness played a part in their parents’ divorce. Kelcey said they sought help for Keith at the Helen Farabee MHMR Center on multiple occasions.

Wanting her brothers to grow up in a stable environment, then 20-year-old Kelcey moved home and assumed guardianship of Jerod and 13-year-old Jeremy a month after their mother’s passing.

“To be honest, I can’t tell you where I got the strength,” Kelcey said. “It probably was my mom. It just felt natural to me. It was the right transition for all of us, it felt like. They needed to be in a stable place and [have] someone who was like a mom to them. And that was the role I needed to fill. That’s what I had to do. I didn’t question it a whole lot.”

In the months leading up to Linda’s death, Jerod and Kelcey said Keith’s mental condition deteriorated. Kelcey said at one point, Keith spontaneously bought a bar in Mineral Wells and was also fired from his job.

After their mother died, Keith’s bipolar disorder continued to worsen. As Kelcey remembers, it took calling “several people” to even get in touch with her father. Sensing something was seriously wrong, Kelcey again took Keith to the MHMR Center in Decatur in February 2012.

“We sat with a case worker and I remember him looking at me whenever they asked him ‘Have you ever had any thoughts about harming yourself or others?'” Kelcey said. “And he looked at me and back at her and said ‘Nope, not a thought.’ And the very next day he did it.”

It was early Saturday morning when Kelcey made the phone call to her grandparents’ house. She said she knew immediately something was wrong when her best friend’s mother answered the phone.

Jerod, who was in the bedroom sleeping, remembers Kelcey screaming into the phone as she got the news. Keith had committed suicide.

“Within less than five months I’d lost my mom and dad,” Jerod said. “I never would imagine losing one, much less both of them at the age of 11. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

THE ROAD AHEAD

Jerod isn’t much for sympathy.

After his father’s death, Jerod said he and Jeremy were encouraged to go to counseling. They attended a few sessions, but quickly realized it was not for them.

“Everybody thought I could go to counseling,” Jerod said. “But you know how that works out. We went for a little bit, but my brother and I didn’t like going there.”

Instead, Jerod, Jeremy and Kelcey leaned on each other for support – something they still do to this day. Although they had lost their mother and father within a span of five months, the three were determined to persevere.

“We went from hating each other to three best friends, kind of,” Jeremy said. “Our bond is like a little triangle that can never be broken.”

Jeremy graduated from Chico in 2016 and is planning to transfer to Tarleton State University in the fall from Weatherford College. Kelcey eventually transferred to the University of North Texas and finished her degree. She graduated in 2014 and now works in marketing for North East Mall in Hurst.

While Jerod described himself as a momma’s boy, he said Kelcey has impacted his life in ways he could never imagine.

“I don’t always show it to her, but she is the biggest part of my life,” Jerod said. “She doesn’t get enough credit from everyone else, either. She has taken over two roles. To come in from college not even having a job and to support two teenagers – she’s had the biggest impact.”

Jerod will graduate from Chico as salutatorian in May. He has a GPA of 3.9 and plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in mechanical engineering. He was the starting quarterback of the football team this year, leading the Dragons to their second straight playoff appearance. He also led the basketball team in scoring, helping Chico make it back to the postseason.

“I am so proud of that kid,” Kelcey said. “I think every day he does something that impresses me more and more. I can’t even put it into words how proud he makes me, and how proud I know my mom and dad are of him.

“These past however many years watching him do it all, it’s been so much fun for me and so rewarding to see him accomplish everything he has. He makes the whole town proud of him. His life and Jeremy’s could have gone in a much different [direction] than they did.”

Two weeks ago against Alvord, Jerod struck out 15 batters, leading Chico to a 4-1 victory over its cross-town rival. It was also the Dragons’ eighth straight victory at the time.

After the game, McBeth told Jerod it was the best he has pitched since the series-clinching win over Muenster nearly two years ago.

While Jerod does not see his parents behind the mound and in the outfield every game, he can still occasionally peer into the bleachers and see them both.

“I can just picture my mom in the stands. She gets one sunflower seed – she can’t put them all in her mouth – and I can picture her chewing them one by one and spitting them out, and my dad yelling at me from the side of the fence,” Jerod said, his voice trailing off.

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Baseball: Texans squeak past Saginaw

Northwest scored two runs in the sixth inning to edge Saginaw Thursday 7-5.

Max Lankford started the game on the mound for the Texans. He gave up four runs on six hits in three innings.

Josh Baker entered the game in relief and earned the win. He surrendered one run on three hits in four innings of work. He struck out three.

John Roa led the Texans at the plate, going 2-for-3. He drove in two runs.

Northwest moved to 7-14 overall and 4-3 in District 6-5A. The Texans traveled to Boswell Tuesday.

ARGYLE 10, BRIDGEPORT 0

Argyle surrendered just one hit in a 10-0 rout of Bridgeport Friday.

The Eagles used a six-run fourth inning to pull away. The Bulls committed four errors on the night.

Corbin Bailey suffered the loss for Bridgeport. He scattered five runs on seven hits in three innings. He struck out one and walked two. Michael Young threw one inning of relief, giving up five runs on three hits.

Daniel Delgadillo went 1-for-2 at the plate.

The Bulls fell to 6-12 overall and 0-2 in District 9-4A. Bridgeport hosted Gainesville Tuesday.

JACKSBORO 8, PARADISE 5

Jacksboro beat Paradise 8-5 Friday after scoring six runs in the last two innings.

With the game tied in the top of the sixth, the Tigers doubled on a 1-0 count, plating a run. Jacksboro added two more runs in the frame and three in the seventh.

Parker Cook took the loss for the Panthers. He allowed five runs on six hits over five and one-thirds innings. He struck out one.

Trevor Helton went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk. He drove in a run. Jace Essig went 2-for-3.

Paradise fell to 4-11 overall. The Panthers traveled to Bowie Tuesday.

LINDSAY 14, ALVORD 1

Lindsay ran past Alvord 14-1 in five innings last Friday.

The Knights racked up 19 hits in the win.

Clayton Machal started the game for the Bulldogs. He went one inning, giving up six runs on seven hits. He struck out one and walked one.

Daidrain Locklear and Tanner Petree both threw innings of relief out of the bullpen. They combined to surrender eight runs on 12 hits.

Lindsay did most of its damage early, scoring nine runs in the second inning.

William Martin had two hits for Alvord in the loss.

The Bulldogs hosted Saint Jo Tuesday.

CHICO 11, ERA 0

Jerod Blanks struck out seven as Chico shut out Era 11-0. Blanks pitched four innings and surrendered just one hit.

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Baseball: Blanks shuts down Alvord

Untouchable

UNTOUCHABLE – Chico’s Jerod Blanks struck out 15 in the Dragon’s 4-1 win over Alvord. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Jerod Blanks struck out 15 as Chico beat rival Alvord 4-1 Tuesday.

Blanks scattered six hits and one run over six and two-thirds innings. He walked one.

Clayton Machal got the start for the Bulldogs. He gave up five hits and no runs in five innings.

Ace Edgett entered in relief for Alvord, surrendering four runs on five hits in two innings. The Dragons scored three of their runs in the seventh inning to pull away.

ENNIS 10, BRIDGEPORT 0

Ennis blanked Bridgeport 10-0 Tuesday.

Connor Holzer suffered the loss for the Bulls. He lasted five innings, giving up 10 runs on 12 hits. He struck out three.

Corbin Bailey had Bridgeport’s only hit of the game in the fourth inning.

The Bulls host Castleberry today (Saturday).

BOYD 4, PARADISE 0

Boston McIntire threw a complete game shutout Tuesday, leading Boyd to a 4-0 victory over rival Paradise.

McIntire struck out 10 in seven innings of work, surrendering just three hits.

Dylan Couture went 2-for-2 at the plate for Boyd. Rustyn Ellis plated a run on a sacrifice bunt in the second inning. The Yellowjackets scored three runs in the frame.

Mikey Passariello took the loss for Paradise.

Boyd hosted Nocona on Friday. The Panthers hosted City View.

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Baseball: Hot start – Dragons begin district 3-0

Baseball: Hot start – Dragons begin district 3-0

Will to Win

WILL TO WIN – Chico coach Brian McBeth addresses his team before Monday’s practice. The Dragons have won seven straight games and have come from behind in each of their district wins. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Chico Dragons were staring at a 10-run deficit in the fourth inning last week against District 10-2A rival Lindsay.

Jerod Blanks had given up nine runs in two innings of work, walking six batters in the process. Although they trailed 13-3, the Dragons never got down on themselves.

Instead, they asked a simple question in the dugout: does everyone have their plastic animal inside their hat?

“Sophomore year we had these little toy dinosaurs, but this year we’ve got farm animals that we keep in our hat,” Blanks said. “I’ve got a pig in here. We’ve all got them in our hats.”

The ritual worked – at least as far as Chico is concerned.

The Dragons fought all the way back against the Knights, scoring seven runs in the seventh inning to get the win, 16-15. At the time, it was the Chico’s sixth consecutive victory. Since then, they have extended their winning streak to seven and went for their eighth straight win Tuesday night against rival Alvord.

The Dragons are 8-1 overall on the season and a perfect 3-0 in district.

“[We’ve] just been finding a way to win,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “We’ve been down in almost every game we played. All of our district games have been comeback wins. It’s kind of a motto we go over all the time – just find a way.”

McBeth has preached getting on base, whether it is drawing a walk or taking a pitch. As a team, the Dragons are hitting .433 with an on-base percentage of .578. Chico has drawn 54 walks through nine games and is averaging 10.8 runs per contest.

Blanks is Chico’s leadoff man and sets the tone at the top of the order. He sports a .630 batting average to go along with 14 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

“He almost gets on base every time,” said senior Bailey Umphress of Blanks. “If he doesn’t, he works that pitcher.

“[Getting on base] is important. None of us are really power hitters. We’re all contact [hitters]. When Jerod comes in there and hits the ball, it’s just a tone-setter.”

In addition to getting runners aboard, McBeth has also emphasized the importance of baserunning. Chico spent the first 15 minutes of practice Monday working on a baserunning drill. The Dragons have stolen 64 bases this year, tormenting teams on the base path.

As district play heats up, McBeth knows Chico will have to clean up its defense and pitching. The Dragons have committed 20 errors on the year and have a team ERA of 5.87.

Chico narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season, finishing sixth in District 10-2A with a 5-9 mark in league play. But the Dragons have no intention on missing the postseason again this year.

“At any given [moment] we have a chance to win a ballgame no matter what [the score] is,” McBeth said.

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Baseball: Decatur cruises past Benbrook

Bodi Rascon tallied four hits and Decatur beat Benbrook 14-4 on Friday. Rascon doubled in the second, singled in the third, homered in the fourth and doubled in the fifth.

He finished the day with five RBIs.

Beau Bedford started the game for Decatur. He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and four runs. He struck out four and walked one.

The Eagles scored five runs in the fourth and six runs in the fifth.

BRIDGEPORT 7, CELINA 5

The Bridgeport Bulls took advantage of a late-inning error by Celina to come away with a 7-5 victory on Thursday.

The Bulls were down 5-4 in the top of the seventh when an error scored two runs for Bridgeport. Michael Young earned the win for Bridgeport. He surrendered one hit in two-thirds innings of scoreless relief.

Corbin Bailey started the game for the Bulls. He lasted five and a third innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. He struck out three. Jadon Maddox and Yobany Roman each went 3-of-4 at the dish for Bridgeport.

BOYD 10, ARCHER CITY 4

Boyd used a six-run fourth inning to pull away from Archer City on Friday. Creighton Witt started the game for the Yellowjackets. He gave up four runs on two hits over three innings. He struck out four.

Boyd collected seven hits in the win.

CHICO 22, BLUFF DALE 3

The Dragons scored 20 runs in the first two innings Thursday, routing Bluff Dale 22-3.

Hank Bailey, Jerod Blanks, Bailey Umpgress, Austin Lacy and Joseph Williams all had RBIs in Chico’s 10-run second inning. The Dragons had 18 hits in the win.

Bailey and Umphress both took the hill for Chico. Combined, they surrendered three runs on one hit.

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Baseball: Decatur finishes Bowie Tournament 5-0

The Decatur Eagles never allowed a run in the Bowie Tournament over the weekend, finishing a perfect 5-0. Decatur outscored its opponents 36-0.

The Eagles blanked Mineral Wells 3-0 on Friday night behind six shutout innings from Beau Bedford. He scattered four hits, walked two and struck out six.

Cole Davis led Decatur at the plate with two hits. The Eagles scored their first run in the second inning on a stolen base during Bryson Oates’ at bat. Oates then doubled.

Bodi Rascon and Brayden Quinten combined for a shutout as Decatur routed Jacksboro 10-0.

Rascon started the game, pitching two innings while giving up one hit. Quinten finished the game, getting six quick outs. He struck out one.

Bedford singled home a run in the first inning to get the scoring started for Decatur. In the third inning, Jaxsyn Fletcher, Wilson Hicks and Bedford each recorded RBIs in the four-run inning.

Decatur will play in the Melissa Tournament this weekend. They take on Levelland and Saginaw Thursday.

HENRIETTA 8, BRIDGEPORT 4

The Bridgeport Bulls went 1-2 in a tournament in Henrietta over the weekend.

A four-run sixth inning doomed Bridgeport last Thursday against Henrietta, as the Bulls fell 8-4.

Connor Holzer went the distance for Bridgeport, surrendering eight runs over six innings. Holzer allowed 10 hits and struck out four.

Jadon Maddux, Salvador Garcia and Corbin Bailey each had two hits in the loss.

The Bulls could not complete the comeback last Friday against Iowa Park in a 5-3 defeat.

Bridgeport used a three-run sixth inning to try and get back in the game. A walk by Daniel Delgadillo and a single by Yobany Roman in the sixth scratched across two runs.

Bailey surrendered five runs on eight hits over five innings. He struck out three.

Michael Young pitched a complete game as the Bulls knocked off Windthorst 3-1. Young allowed only one run through seven innings, scattering four hits and striking out five.

Bridgeport scored on a stolen base in the first inning during Delgadillo’s at bat. Roman and Michael Marschall also had RBIs for the Bulls.

Bridgeport will compete in the Denison Tournament this weekend.

AUBREY 8, BOYD 2

Aubrey scored early and often in last Friday’s 8-2 rout of Boyd to start the Pilot Point/Gunter Tournament.

Creighton Witt was on the hill for the Yellowjackets. He pitched four innings, giving up eight runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Boyd’s Chris Karcher singled home a run in the first inning on a 2-2 count.

Karcher, Witt, Payton Brown, Jacob Faust and Rustyn Ellis each had a hit in the loss.

Boyd scored five runs in the fifth inning to stun Sanger 6-5.

With the game tied at five, Koby Miller singled home the winning run on an 0-1 count. Nick Taylor started the game for the Yellowjackts, pitching three and two-thirds innings. He gave up five runs on seven hits.

Alex Booth allowed one run over four innings, striking out seven in an 11-1 Boyd victory over Pilot Point. Booth gave up only two hits.

The Yellowjackets’ bats came to life in the fourth inning, as Lane Wilson and Boston McIntire each plated runners with base hits.

Denton Braswell cruised to a 13-0 victory over Boyd last Saturday.

Dylan Couture only lasted one-third of an inning, allowing four runs on two hits. Payton Brown and Whitt Hill entered the game in relief, surrendering two and three runs, respectively.

The Yellowjackets’ lone hit came from Nick Taylor in the second inning.

PEASTER 8, PARADISE 0

Peaster blanked Paradise 8-0 last Friday in the opening game of the American Cancer Society Tournament.

The Panthers managed just three hits in the loss. Will Reeves and Tre Valentine each had hits.

Parker Cook started the game for Paradise, going four and two-thirds innings. He gave up six runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking one.

Peaster had 10 hits in the victory.

Paradise could not overcome an eight-run first inning in an 11-8 loss to Vernon last Friday.

The Panthers made five errors in the loss and walked eight. Marshall Payton started the game for Paradise, but he was unable to get out of the first inning. He surrendered eight runs on two hits.

Trevor Helton threw four innings in relief, allowing three runs on four hits.

The Panthers attempted to make a late rally with seven runs in the third inning.

Muenster’s high-powered offense jumped on Paradise early last Saturday in a 13-2 victory. The Panthers surrendered eight runs in the first two innings.

Jace Essig took the loss for Paradise, pitching two innings and giving up eight runs on three hits. Colby Cox threw three innings in relief.

Mitchell Sellers went 2-for-3 at the dish for the Panthers in the loss.

NOCONA 7, ALVORD 6

Alvord nearly erased a four-run deficit in a 7-6 loss to Nocona last Friday.

The Bulldogs scored two runs in the top of the fourth but the Indians answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half.

Clayton Michael started the game for Alvord, giving up five runs on five hits over two and two-thirds innings. Ace Edgett threw one and one-third innings out of the bullpen.

Nocona had seven hits in the victory.

KEENE 5, CHICO 4

Keene beat Chico last Saturday on a walk-off single in the bottom of the fourth.

Willie Payne suffered the loss for the Dragons, allowing three runs on one hit over one and one-third innings.

Hank Bailey started the game on the hill for Chico, going two innings and allowing two runs. He allowed three hits and struck out one.

Logan Ellis went 2-for-2 at the plate for the Dragons in the loss.

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