News|Opinion|Home Page|Archives Menu|Classified|Advertising|Monahans|
Which is why Andrews is favored to claim their third straight 4-4A
title five weeks from now.
The Mustangs and Pecos Eagles are the only two district teams with
winning records. But Andrews has played the more impressive schedule,
beating Class 5A teams from Carlsbad, Odessa High, Roswell Goddard,
along with Frenship, one of the teams expected to reach the playoffs out
of District 2-4A.
Lance Martin has the best earned run average of any district starter so
far, Cody Klein is already in double-digits in home runs and is also
undefeated on the mound, with much of that success due to Andrews'
The Mustang lead 4-4A teams in double plays and have committed the
fewest errors, meaning -- so far at least -- Andrews hasn't beaten
The Eagles have lost only two more games than the Mustangs, but in
three of those losses -- two behind No. 1 pitcher Jason Abila -- they
have beaten themselves, allowing seven unearned runs in losses to the
two best teams they've played so far, El Paso Burges and Abilene Wylie.
Abila went 4-1 last season in district, and with lefthander Moses
Martinez posting a 4-1 pre-district record after his strong finish a
year ago, the Eagles should end their five-year playoff drought, and
could challenge Andrews for the district title, if they can avoid the
errors and connect against the district's lefthanded pitchers.
San Angelo Lake View is looking to do just about the same thing. They
get Sterlin Gilbert back as their No. 1 pitcher, and have gotten a
couple of other good pitching efforts recently. The Chiefs are probably
a little more consistent hitting team than the Eagles right now, but
they're also averaging about 4½ errors per game. That number could again
keep Lake View out of post-season play, but if the defense improves, it
could be San Angelo challenging for the 4-4A title.
Andrews, Pecos and Lake View are the favorites to earn the three
post-season berths, but Sweetwater, Big Spring and Fort Stockton could
Big Spring has six straight playoff appearances, but lost virtually
their entire squad from a season ago. Coach Bobby Doe has gotten some
good pitching recently from Blake Hull and Danny Wilson, and he said the
team's defense has improved as of late.
The Steers' recent winning tradition could also help against their 4-4A
rivals down the stretch, if the new players can come up with some early
victories in district play.
Sweetwater made the playoffs in two of their last four seasons in
District 4-4A, before going to District 5-4A the past two years. Coach
Tony Heredia's team will be even younger than Big Spring, with only one
senior starter and three sophomore pitchers, including lefthanded ace
Jared Shelton. Both he and most of the other starters already have a
season of varsity play under their belts, and several late arrivals to
the squad should bolster the Mustangs' defense.
Fort Stockton's defense was committing about as many errors as San
Angelo Lake View through the first month of play. When they got things
together, they finished ahead of both Sweetwater and Big Spring at the
Snyder Tournament. Coach Russell McGuiart also has a young team, but
they could cause trouble if the defense performs behind No. 1 pitcher
Steven Cordova, who had an 8-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in six
Pecos has gone five years since their last trip to the playoffs.
Injuries to their main pitchers, and an inability to bring home runners
in scoring position, have been two of the main culprits.
Last year's team went 4-6 in District 4-4A and 9-12 overall, and the
two teams they finished ahead of came up with one no-hitter and a near
no-hitter against the Eagles.
This year's squad has already surpassed last season's win total, and in
their 10 wins, the Eagles have scored 15, 6, 9, 9, 13, 8, 22, 16, 12 and
"If we get people on base, we're going to score," Eagles' coach Bubba
Williams said last week. "When we get on we're going to run, and I don't
think a high school team can consistently throw us out."
Although they've struggled at bat in a few games, Pecos has been much
more successful with the hit-and-run this year, and have been able to
both move runners up with one out, and get them home with two out so far
Much of the improvement has come from within, since Pecos has seven of
their nine starters back from a year ago.
Jason Abila returns for a third season at shortstop and on the mound,
and will try to get though 1997 injury free. He popped his elbow midway
through district play as a freshman, then did the same in mid-March last
He still managed to make it through the season, posting a 4-1 record in
district on the mound, and went 7-2 overall as a sophomore.
In doing so, Abila became the first Eagles pitcher in a decade to make
it from the opening to the close of the season as No. 1 starter. Of
course, he ended up as No. 1 after 1995's top pitcher, Anthony
Dutchover, moved away, so even that achievement was had its down side.
No one has moved away this year, and while Abila has already equalled
his loss total from a year ago, the junior's 3-2 mark comes with an
earned run average below 1.50, and 57 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Errors have played key roles in three of Pecos' four defeats, including
both of Abila's losses, to El Paso Burges and Abilene Wylie. Bad
fielding in some other games hasn't cost Pecos, thanks to their
double-digit run totals, but Williams is hoping the Eagles can keep the
mistakes down, as they've done in their last two games.
"If we play defense behind Jason, we're going to be all right,"
Williams said. "They may hit him, but they're not going to hit him
Along with Abila, the Eagles' other main pitcher this season has been
lefthander Moses Martinez. He got in one start as a freshman, then
struggled on the mound until late last season, when he shut the door on
eventual district runner-up Big Spring to preserve a victory for Abila.
In pre-district this season, Martinez has posted a 4-1 record after
going 0-5 as a freshman and sophomore, and outside of some early control
problems in his last start, he's been the most consistent pitcher in
throwing strikes for the Eagles.
The No. 3 pitching spot is still unsettled going into district play.
Jason Aguilar was moved up to the varsity, and ended up as the Eagles'
No. 2 starter last season. He had a couple of good games, but has
struggled with his control in the early going so far in 1997.
Williams got a pair of relief victories out of newcomer Jason Chabarria
in Midland two weeks ago, and he's also looked at Ruben Campos, Oscar
Luna and Richard Gutierrez on the mound.
Gutierrez was the Eagles leading hitter in district last season, and
returns as Pecos' starting third baseman, as does second baseman Nestor
Mendoza. He's moved his average up about 50 points in the past week,
while Gutierrez hit over .450 in pre-district play.
At first base, Joseph Strain won the starting job, after missing most
of last season, and has batted around .300 for most of the season, while
in the outfield, Cisco Rodriguez and Eric Abila return as starters from
a year ago.
Rodriguez joins Gutierrez and Jason Abila in batting over .400 for most
of pre-district play, while Abila was above .350 until last week, when
he slumped a bit after suffering a stomach virus.
Also returning as a starter is catcher Mark Abila. He started as a
freshman last season, and has had few opponents running on him this
year, though he has had a few problems with throws to third base in the
Two other sophomores have split time in the outfield. Oscar Luna has
played the most there, while Lucio Florez was brought up from the JV
after Luna injured his wrist two weeks ago. Right now, he's splitting
time between baseball and track, making him the second most effective
outfielder/hurdler in District 4-4A, behind Andrews' Shaud Williams.
Florez served as designated hitter in the Eagles' district opener
against Sweetwater, batting for senior John Paul Vasquez, who is
handling the shortstop job when Jason Abila is on the mound.
Aside from Luna's wrist, the Eagles also have suffered through an early
season-leg problem for Martinez, an impending tonsillectomy for
outfielder Eric Aguilar, and the March 11 car crash that sidelined
Strain for two games and cost Pecos their other shortstop, Eric Muniz,
for the rest of the season with a broken ankle.
Going into district, Williams was concerned about how well the Eagles
would hit lefthanders, though the past two games against Lamesa's Jaime
Garcia and Sweetwater's Jarod Shelton have been encouraging.
"We need to convince ourselves we can hit lefthanded pitching, because
that's what we're going to see in district," Williams said following
last Friday's win over Garcia and the Tornadoes.
Pecos got over their problems beating Big Spring last season, sweeping
both games from the Steers, but have beaten defending district champion
Andrews only once, in non-district play, since 1992.
That's also the year the current playoff drought began. With the new
three-team playoff format -- and barring both injuries and grade
problems -- that streak should end this year, but if Pecos wants to earn
their first district title since 1987, they'll need to end that streak
against the Mustangs, along with reversing their recent problems against
San Angelo Lake View.
Andrews has gone 18-2 in district the past two seasons, and were 23-6 a
year ago before losing in the third round of the playoffs to Sherman, in
a best-of-three series. And the Mustangs did it mainly behind the arms
of Larry and Corey Martin.
Both Larry, a lefthander, and Corey, a righty, have graduated, but the
Mustangs have filled at least one of those holes with Larry's brother,
Lance, another righty who already owns two shutouts this season, one a
no-hitter against Lubbock Roosevelt.
The senior also shut the door on Snyder after the first inning of the
championship game of the Snyder Tournament on Mar. 15. But that was in
relief of starter P.J. Lewis, and by that time, the Tigers had pushed 11
runs across the plate in an 11-0 win.
However, he came back to get the save on Mar. 18 in Andrews against
Snyder, as the Mustangs posted a 13-11 win, and earned a victory this
past weekend at the Roswell, N.M. Tournament, beating the host Goddard
Rockets after Haney shutting out Lawton, Okla. in the opener. The
Mustangs then used Martin, Cody Klein and Gabe Falcon to beat
Wolfforth-Frenship, 5-4, in the championship game.
It was Andrews' second title in three tries -- they won the Carlsbad
Tournament in early March -- though coach Joe Ray Halsey said playing a
tournament right before district, "is something I'm probably not going
to do again."
However, outside of the bat work Snyder displayed against the
non-Martin hurlers Halsey threw at them, Andrews' district rivals are
faced with the odds that the Mustangs will again by at or near the top
of the 4-4A standings.
Martin, Klein and Falcon are all seniors, though with the two other
Martins around, none pitched much in 1995. Klein couldn't, due to
soreness in his elbow tendon. But so far this season, the lefthander is
undefeated, with his latest win in the title game on Saturday against
"He's had some big strikeout games, but basically, he's been able to
get the ground ball when he's needed it," Halsey said.
While the 4-0 Klein and the 5-0 Martin fight it out for No. 1 pitcher,
there's no question Klein has been the top hitter so far for Andrews.
"He's had a remarkable pre-district," Halsey said, with 10 home runs in
the team's first 17 games. "He had several last year, but right now he's
swinging as good as anyone I've seen."
Klein played outfield last season, but has spent time at first base
this year. He joins Martin, last year's second baseman, are among a
handful of returning starters for Andrews. They include their catcher,
Elton Emiliano, and shortstop Gabe Falcon, who has seen some mound
action this year and backed up Emiliano at catcher last season.
August Lewis is the only completely new face on the infield, starting
at third base, and defensively, the Mustangs have played better than
anyone else in 4-4A through the first month of the season.
"We've had a lot of double plays, which sounds good, but that also
means we've had a lot of runners on, which isn't good," Halsey said.
Another newcomer is familiar to Andrews' District 4-4A rivals.
Sophomore Shaud Williams will be trying to add an all-district baseball
honor to his all-district in basketball and district MVP in football.
Williams played a little bit last year, and is still splitting time
with track, where he was a regional qualifier in the hurdles as a
freshman. "We don't have him all the time, but when he's there, he
really helps," Halsey said.
Along with Williams and both Lewises, other new players in the
Mustangs' lineup include a pair of Mikes, Hudson and Hudgens. Hudgens
will flank Williams on one side in the outfield, while P.J. Lewis will
also play there when he's not pitching.
Aside from Klein, Halsey said Falcon has been the team's next-best
hitter so far in 1997. "He's been hitting the ball well and has about
four home runs. Those two are our leading RBI guys."
While most of the other district coaches have already pencilled in
Andrews for one of the three 4-4A post-season berths, Halsey was a
little more cautious, since last year's team was just as heavy a
favorite, and did drop two games in district before claiming their
second straight 4-4A title.
"It always seems like when district comes around, it (the pre-district
records) just don't remain the same," he said.
Even so, it would be a major surprise if Andrews wasn't one of the
three district teams still playing when May arrives.
Lake View entered District 4-4A play sporting only a 5-9 mark, and had
lost four of their previous five games. But before that streak, they
piled up 23 runs on Lamesa, a team that defeated both Pecos and Fort
Stockton last weekend, and they closed out pre-district play with a 5-1
win over Snyder, after the Tigers had racked up 22 runs on 4-4A favorite
Andrews during the previous six days.
In between those wins, Lake View lost a pair of games to the Frenship
Tigers and one to Lubbock Estacado. All the games were close, and Lake
View did touch Tigers' ace Dwight Welch for five hits and three runs in
a 6-3 loss. Welch came into that game with two no-hitters and a
one-hitter in the first three weeks of the season.
Welch throws in the low 90s, and impressed Andrews' coach Joe Halsey,
whose team squeezed out a 5-4 win over Frenship last weekend at the
Roswell tournament. Combine that with strong pitching efforts by a
senior two underclassmen during the past 10 days, and coach Rene
Cordova's team has a good shot at putting to rest the Chiefs'
distinction of being the only district team to have never reached the
Lake View keeps coming close. Three years ago, a seventh inning homer
by Pecos' Arturo Hinojos in the final game of the season kept them out,
and the past two years, season-ending losses to Big Spring's Zac Leslie
have sent the Chiefs home.
This year, Cordova's squad will be hoping Sterlin Gilbert, who
quarterbacked Lake View to three straight post-season appearances, and
lead the Chiefs to their first-ever playoff trip in baseball.
He entered district with just a 1-3 mark, but has been hurt by his
defense in a couple of losses. Against Frenship, he matched Welch in
allowing just five hits, but saw four unearned runs provide the margin
While Gilbert hasn't gotten much help, teammate Tommy Stubblefield was
the beneficiary of the Chiefs' 23-run outburst against Lamesa. He's 3-1
on the season, and fanned nine in his five innings of work against the
However, curveballer Chris Martinez may have put on an even more
impressive performance in four-hitting Snyder last Friday for Lake
View's other win this season. That came after he relieved Josh Gauwain
(0-3) the previous Friday against Estacado, allowing just three hits and
one earned runs in seven innings of a 7-5 loss.
Martinez and Gilbert also start on the infield, at second and third
base, when they're not pitching, while last year's second baseman,
senior Lanze Velez, has moved over to shortstop.
Also back is the team's leading hitter, Mark Childress, at catcher. He
slumped slightly as a sophomore, after earning all-district honors as a
freshman, and has been hitting over .500 so far this season.
Hitting in front of Childress is another returning starter, outfielder
Richard Luna, while last year's designated hitter, Ashby Franklin, has
moved in on defense, either in the outfield or as Gilbert's replacement
at third base.
Gauwain had been filling out the outfield for the Chiefs, playing in
center, while at first, Gary Floyd and Gilbert Velez had split playing
time this season. But Floyd has since left the team, as has Gauwain,
with Abellaro Santillian now set as the third outfielder.
The errors behind Gilbert have continued behind the other Lake View
pitchers. Martinez survived four by his infielders last week to get the
win over Snyder, though Cordova would not doubt like his infielders to
give his pitchers less of a challenge to getting victories now that 4-4A
play has begun.
But the Steers may be taking a page from Big Spring's basketball team,
which always seems to be in the playoffs despite slow starting seasons.
Big Spring has advanced to post-season six straight years, with a trip
to state and three district titles along the way. And while they started
this year by losing by double digit to Odessa Permian, they lost by only
a 2-0 score to Permian two weeks ago, and come into district play having
won two straight games.
"We're starting to play a little bit better than what we were," said
coach Bobby Doe, who has taken the last five Steer teams to the playoffs.
Last year, Big Spring rode the arm of senior Zac Leslie to a third
round post-season appearance. The Steers were 7-9 going into district,
then went 7-3 in 4-4A play, and beat El Paso High and Dumas in the
playoffs before falling to Fort Worth Arlington Heights for the second
year in a row.
Leslie is gone, along with everyone else except for designated hitter
Wes Mouton, who has taken over the role of starting second baseman.
Mouton will be the Steers' main offensive threat this season -- he had
two of the team's three hits in their win last Saturday over Levelland,
though Doe said "he's been struggling at bat," up until Saturday.
Mouton is among a group of underclassmen who'll be in starting roles.
That group includes third baseman Aaron Boadle, who Doe said "has been
our leading hitter, although he's only hitting about .300. We're not
hitting the ball like we have."
Louis Lopez is at shortstop, while last year's junior varsity third
baseman, senior Kade Bowerman, has moved over to first base this year.
"Our infield is starting to play a little better. It's an all-new team,
and they're learning new positions," the Steers' coach said.
Clayton Pate is the Steers' new catcher, and Doe said he's been steady
behind the plate, while earning a spot in the heart of the batting order.
In the outfield, Doe has juniors Brock Gee, Marcus Hyatt and sophomore
Blake Wright in right, center and left field.
On the mound, Big Spring will work with a pair of seniors, Blake Hull
and Danny Wilson, and one junior, Jeff Denton. Hull, whose brother Danny
was a member of the team last season, had one pre-district win and
picked up the save on Saturday against Levelland for Wilson, who allowed
just one run in his four innings of work, while getting his second
victory of the year.
Big Spring was able to advance to post-season play last year despite
two losses to Pecos, thanks to a sweep of San Angelo Lake View and a
split with Andrews. Going into district play this season, Doe isn't
optimistic about his -- or any other team's -- chances against Andrews,
but with the new three-playoff format, the Steers will have an extra
game or so to set things up for their seventh straight post-season trip.
And they'd like to match the triple play the 1992 Mustangs pulled off
-- taking district titles in football, basketball and baseball during
the same year.
The football and basketball titles are already under wraps, but to
repeat the results from either 1992 of `94, Sweetwater will have to
bounce back from a weak season offensively as a member of District 5-4A
in 1996 -- which might be a suprise to their 4-4A rivals, since
Sweetwater was always an offensive-minded team in the past.
Seven of coach Tony Heredia's nine starters were members of the
Mustangs' district-championship football team, though unlike 1992, the
most-heralded players have opted for track over baseball this season.
"We've only got one senior on the team among our returning lettermen,
and our whole pitching staff is sophomores," said Heredia, who just got
another sophomore, Brett Bishop, out after he playing on Sweetwater's
regional championship basketball squad.
"He filled in very nicely at the Snyder Tournament. He got a couple of
hits with only one day's batting practice," Heredia said. "Once he feels
comfortable, he should do even better."
However, the key sophomore is lefthander Jarod Shelton, the team's No.
1 pitcher, who already owns a victory over Big Spring at the Snyder
Tournament on March 13.
"He saw some playing time as a freshman, so he's got a year's
experience, even though he's still young," the Mustangs' coach said.
Shelton pitched in relief in Sweetwater's final pre-district game, a
7-5 loss at home to Kermit. Jeremy Maxwell started that game, and coach
Tony Heredia also used Brandon Maldonado on the mound. "I gave all my
pitchers 2¶ innings (against Kermit), so they would all get in a little
work," said Heredia, who currently has Maldonado down as his No. 2
Shelton will play first base when he's not on the mound, while
Maldoando saw time at shortstop before Bishop's arrival.
The rest of the starting infield features two juniors, third baseman
Michael Gomez and Marty Smith, the lone senior starter, at second base.
"He's our leading hitter right now. He's batting about .450," said
Heredia. "Defensively, he made a couple of errors when he played at
shortstop when Maldonado was pitching, but I think his error Friday
(against Kermit) was hit first at second base."
Gomez just got his starting job back a couple of weeks ago, after
spending time on the ineligible list, as did another junior, outfielder
He'll start in left field, with junior Jason Gomez in right, and Justin
Gee, a sophomore, in centerfield.
"He's made four or five diving catches out there that were pretty
spectacular," Heredia said. Offensively, Gee's hitting in the .275-.300
range, but his coach said his on-base percentage is much higher. "He's
drawn walk after walk," Heredia added.
Catcher right now is being split between Nicholas Boil and Andy Hall,
while two other players, Steven Wayman and Brandon Henfer, are splitting
time as designated hitter.
Weyman gives the Mustangs the same kind of big designated hitter they
enjoyed when Toby Stephens filled the roll back in 1992-94. But the
235-pound junior also will see action in the field, at first base when
Shelton is pitching.
Coach Russell McGuiart's squad is below .500 going into District 4-4A
play, but finished ahead of a couple of district rivals, Sweetwater and
Big Spring, at the Snyder Tournament on March 13-15. And while a 12-2
loss to the host Tigers doesn't look good, Snyder took out two-time
defending district champ Andrews 11-0 the following night.
Last season, the Panthers started strong, with a 7-4 record, but ended
up going 2-8 in district for the second year in a row.
"We're very young. We've only got two back from last year," said
McGuiart of his starting lineup.
Fort Stockton's success figures to hinge on the pitching of Steven
Cordero. The righthander sported a 3-3 mark in pre-district, but had
only allowed two earned runs in his first six games, with seven walks
and 57 strikeouts.
Errors plagued Cordero in his losses. They added 15 more runs to his
total, most of those coming in the three losses.
"Steve's had some hard luck. We've made a bunch of errors behind him,"
McGuiart said. Overall, the Panthers committed 54 errors in pre-district
Cordero was the Panthers shortstop last season, and will be back there
when not pitching.
Competing for the No. 2 pitching spot are a pair of newcomers, Nathan
Reeves and Jeremy Hickman.
Reeves, the younger brother of last year's starting center fielder,
Chad Reeves, earned a 6-5 victory over Sweetwater in the Snyder
Tournament, though he was hit hard by Lamesa on Saturday in a 10-6 loss.
Hickman started the Panthers' 2-1 win over Lubbock Roosevelt and their
6-4 loss on Mar. 18 against Monahans.
Cordero is just one of a handful of returning players for Fort
Stockton. He's joined by Chris Irigoyen and outfielder Bryan Parker.
Both they're both moving to different positions this season -- Parker
from the outfield to catcher, and Irigoyen from third to first base.
"Bryan's coming around. He was having problems with his throws and I
put Jeremy Hickman at catcher and moved him to right field, and that
kind of got his attention," McGuiart said.
The pair, along with Cordero, were batting in the mid-.300s during the
first month of the season, as was Reeves, who plays outfielder with two
other sophomores, Cesar Hernandez and Jonathan Rojas.
Rojas was the top hitter in the early going for Fort Stockton, batting
just under .400 in pre-district, and McGuiart said, "He's the best
fielder. When we have a fast pitcher like Steven on the mound, I'll put
him in right field."
Along with the sophomores, McGuiart has a freshman, David Nance, in the
lineup, at shortstop. "He's also not a bad pitcher. He beat Greenwood in
the Monahans Tournament," McGuiart said, while saying Nance is still a
little behind the older players in hitting.
Return to top
State and Regional Sports Pages--San Angelo Standard-Times
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall
not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or
redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP
Materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for
personal and non-commercial use. The AP will not be held liable for
any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the
transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages
arising from any of the foregoing.
Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Return to Sports Menu
Return to Home Page