By GREG WEBB
ROUND ROCK — In terms of athletic performance, and enjoying success at a high level, a sage adage is to “act like you’ve been there before.” None of the four teams in the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament had been there before, but there was certainly one who played the part.
Aledo played near errorless baseball in its two-game stint at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, enjoyed masterful pitching and enough hitting to best the other bests in the state, culminating with a 4-0 victory over the Victoria East Titans in the championship match on Friday.
Aside from formidable talent of the Aledo baseball team who seemed to find their apex of play level at precisely the right time, the two handfuls of Bearcats who have played in the “Big Show” before proved to be a good advantage.
“Our guys who played football helped set the tone for competing at this level and as we went through the playoffs,” said Aledo head baseball coach Chad Barry. “Obviously its a different game, but the mentality is the same.
“You have to prioritize and block out all of the external distractions.”
Aledo senior hurler Taco Anderson, who pitched a 3-hit gem and was named the Championship Game’s Most Valuable Player by the press writers, acknowledged the clear advantage of being able to focus on the task at hand.
I really think we developed nerves of steel because of the experience we had in football,” Anderson said. “We were playing in front of 30,000 people in football, so I think that prepared us well, even though the it’s a different sport.
“And that helped the team as a whole, as well.”
Friday’s title match was set up when Aledo eliminated Hallsville, 9-1, and the Titans beat George Ranch. 4-1.
The 4A State Final was a meeting of two teams who did not claim titles in there own district. Aledo went into postseason as the third seed from District 7, the Titans as District 30’s second seed.
“Neither one of these teams won their district, so I guess both of us are kind of Cinderella stories,” Barry said. “It’s really a testament to hard work and team work to do so well in the playoffs.”
In contrast to Thursday’s semifinal, when it took the Bearcats a few innings to break the scoring ice, Aledo scored a run in their first at bat. After Tyson Mauser’s leadoff hit and Wade Raburn’s walk found the runners at second and third, courtesy of a passed ball, Zayne Willems groundout produced and RBI. Willems would come back to hit safely twice, totalling three runs batted in.
“I was pretty nervous before the game, but getting that run in the first inning really helped me settle down,” Anderson said.
Blanking the Titans in the bottom frame, Aledo added another run in the second. Then Anderson just settled in and started working.
“Ive had good command of my fastball all through the playoffs,” the Brown University commit said. “My splitter and curve had not been as good, but tonight I was hitting my spots with all of them.”
Anderson struck out four batters while walking just one, but with the defensive prowess the Bearcats displayed, including a late-game circus catch by center fielder Raburn, pitching to make the Titans hit worked out just fine. In the two games in Round Rock, Aledo defense was a single error short of perfection behind their hurlers. The lone miscue did not hurt Aledo.
Coach Barry was understandably generous in heaping praise on his aces.
“(Taco) just seemed to get better with each start, especially during the playoffs, as you’ve seen,” Barry said. “He just got stronger each and every week.”
“And I just can’t say enough about the way Chris pitched [on Thursday]. We’ve had good, strong pitching all year long. “That has kept us in a lot of games, even when we weren’t hitting.”
But the hitting did come around for Aledo, with even more consistency as they hit postseason. The Bearcats totalled 18 hits and 13 runs in the state tournament.
“We seemed to get our swing back as a team,” Barry said. “Sometimes its been the top or bottom part [of the batting order] and sometimes the middle.”
The Aledo margin after two innings in Friday’s title game seemed much larger than its 2-0 lead through five innings, with the command of Anderson’s pitches and the defensive play behind him.
When Willem’s single in the sixth (advancing to second on the throw from the outfield) scored Zack Slemmons (pinch-running after Hershel Gardner’s walk) and right fielder Zane Scott, the wind went out of the Victoria school’s sails and the Bearcats closed out the final two innings with proficiency.
On Thursday, Aledo erased the one-run Hallsville lead in the third inning, and kept scoring in each subsequent frame while Reed stymied the Bobcat bats. First baseman Dakota Durant had the big stroke in the semifinal, clearing the bases with a double in the fifth frame.
Raburn, Connor Duer and Scott joined Durant with two hits each.
Ending its Championship season with a 34-6-2 record, Aledo baseball joins the Ladycats softball team with concurrent state titles.
Although the feat of a school winning softball and baseball championships in the same season has happened twice before, it has never been the case at the Class 4A level.
But adding the “minor” tickler of a single school winning baseball, softball and football championships in the same school year — that distinction belongs only to Aledo High School in UIL history.
By GREG WEBB
- Aledo ExtrA
Suspicious house fire under investigation
The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.
Parker County Attorney John Forrest will ask county commissioners for additional funds as county budget discussions begin this year; he hopes to hire another attorney to help with an increase in Child Protective Services cases.
Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges
A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested Monday, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
Developer withdraws site plan
ANNETTA —A controversial 34-home subdivision proposed for a 41-acre tract on Duncan Road will not go forward as planned, according to action taken by both the proposed developer and the Annetta Town Council after a public hearing Thursday night.
Aledo City Council to meet July 24
The Aledo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the Aledo Community Center, 104 Robinson Court, Aledo.
Fires damage business, home
Two separate fires around 2 p.m. July 15 damaged a Willow Park business and destroyed the home of a Weatherford family.
Letter to the Editor
Thursday night, July 17, I was present for a surprisingly interesting experience when State Representative candidate Matthew Britt addressed a small group of supporters, followed by a question and answer session.
ESD 1, Annetta South close on fire station site
Parker County Emergency Services District No. 1 and Annetta South officials said Tuesday that the ESD is homing in on a site for a new fire station to serve residents in the Annettas and surrounding areas. Annetta South is expected to consider a zoning change to accommodate a new station next month.
Registration has begun for Aledo ISD
Aledo ISD enrollment for the 2014-15 school year began yesterday, July 21, and students new to the district need to register before school begins, Monday, Aug. 25.
County scrambling to fill elections post
Former Parker County Assistant Elections Administrator Laura Watkins, who sought, but was not appointed to the post of Parker County Elections Administrator after Robert Parten retired, last week began work as assistant elections administrator for Palo Pinto County, Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans has confirmed.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Suspicious house fire under investigation