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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Eagles looking to get past area round against Cooper

Staff Writer

Sometimes going through a district schedule undefeated means a team is very good. Sometimes it means the district is very easy.

The Pecos Eagles went through their District 2-4A baseball schedule in 1999 with a perfect 10-0 record, and then went on to the Region I-4A semifinals before being eliminated by Weatherford.

The Eagles also went through their 2-4A schedule last year undefeated, but were then routed in a pair of 10-run rule games by Frenship in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs.

This year, the Eagles are back in the area round of the playoffs, and back playing a Lubbock team in Midland in the area round. But this time, Pecos is in the Region I-3A playoffs, and the shoe is on the other foot, as the Eagles, who went only 5-5 in District 4-3A this year, will take on the Lubbock Cooper Pirates, who breezed through their District 2-3A schedule with a perfect 10-0 mark.

The series will be at the Scharbauer Sports Complex in Midland. Game 1 will be at 7 p.m. on Friday and Game 2 at 1 p.m. on Saturday. A third game, if needed, would start about 3:30 p.m.

Pecos struggled through a 1-4 start to district, before rallying in the second half to earn the third place playoff berth out of 3-3A. The Eagles then went on to sweep the Seminole Indians in the bi-district round of the playoffs last week, winning the opener in Seminole, 1-0, behind Barney Rodriguez' one-hitter and solo home run in the top of the seventh, then routing the Indians in Game 2 by an 11-1 score, as David Elkins hit two home runs and Josh Anchondo survived early control problems to toss a two-hitter.

The Eagles and Pirates haven't faced each other since 1999, the last year the Eagles got past the area round of the playoffs. Cooper, meanwhile, was at .500 going into district play, but has won 10 straight to put their record at 20-10 on the year.

"I spoke to the coaches from Post and they said they're very good," said Eagles' coach Elias Payan. "They've got two solid pitchers (Brian Cloud and Rhyne Fuller), and all around are pretty good.

"Then I spoke to the Snyder coach (Charles Bollinger). They played them three times this year. Cooper won two and Snyder beat them in the other. He said it would be a good series and we're pretty evenly matched," Payan said.

Cloud is 9-1 on the season. He comes in off a five-inning no-hitter over Muleshoe and figures to start the first game of the series for the Pirates. Fuller is 6-1 and should be the Game 2 starter.

At bat, Cooper is led by a sophomore Howell Finch, who went 4-for-4 in one of the Pirates' wins over Snyder, while Fuller had a home run against Muleshoe, in their final regular season home game. The Pirates have four sophomores starting on this year's team, and have won five straight district titles dating back to 1999, while the Eagles return most of their players off last year's team that was swept in the playoffs by Frenship.

"We've got to play our style of ball," Payan said. "If we do that, our chances are good."

Rodriguez allowed a lead-off hit to Austin McBee in last Friday's game, then no-hit Seminole the rest of the way, allowing one runner past second base with two outs in the first inning. He then homered off McBee in the top of the seventh to get the win and improved to 7-6 on the season.

"Barney will start the first game, and hopefully he'll have the same success he had last week," said Payan.

Friday's game will be the first for Pecos at the First American Bank Ballpark at the Scharbauer Complex. The new field for the Oakland A's Class AA Midland affiliate opened last year, but Pecos' playoff series against Frenship was played at the Rockhounds' old ballpark, Christensen Stadium.

"I told the kids that major leaguers have played on this field, so it's a chance to play on one of the best fields in the nation," Payan said. The winner of the series will advance to the regional quarterfinals next weekend, against the winner of the Monahans-Borger series.

McMurry coach to be speaker at sports banquet

McMurry University head football coach and athletic director Steve Keenum will be the guest speaker for the annual Pecos High School All-Sports Banquet, which will be held on Friday, May 16 beginning at 7 p.m. at the new Pecos High School gym.

All-district athletes for the Eagles from the 2001-2002 school year will be recognized at the banquet, and the Doc Lunday, Craig Woods, Joe Shoemaker, Norma Matta and Joe Bob Kelton awards will also be announced during the banquet. A new award will also be given out in the name of former Pecos Eagle Johnny V. Mata, who was killed in March while serving with the 507th Maintenance Company in the war in Iraq.

Keenum is beginning his ninth season at the coaching helm of the Indians and has also been the school's athletic director since 2001.

After graduating from McMurry in 1980, Keenum served as the offensive line coach at Ballinger High School from 1981-85, then spent two seasons at Brownwood High School before becoming the offensive coordinator at Tarleton State University from 1988-90. Keenum spent the 1990-91 season as the offensive coordinator at Abilene Cooper High School and was head football coach at Sul Ross State University from 1991-93. After his stint at Sul Ross, he joined the Hardin-Simmons University staff as the offensive line coach.

Tickets for the banquet at $8 apiece and can be purchased at the Pecos High School office, or at Pecos High School, Gibson True-Value and Dan's Music and Video in Pecos.

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