The unusually frigid – not to mention icy – weather forced many high school baseball teams to miss much of their pre-district seasons. But that’s not all bad, because it means that district play is just getting started. Here’s a look at all seven Frisco ISD teams that will be fighting for four of nine potential playoff spots.
Frisco Liberty RedHawks – 2014: (32-10) District 9-4A Champions, UIL Regional Semifinalists
Despite losing three of their best players from last year’s regional semifinalist team to graduation – Michael Cantrell (Colorado Christian), Austin Miller (Arkansas Tech) and Josh Ryan (Arkansas Tech) – the 2015 RedHawks are still loaded with talent, and hungry to repeat. Liberty has a deep roster, so it’s no surprise they were ranked 14th in the state by TXHighSchoolBaseball.com.
Liberty’s depth comes from four seniors that are no strangers to the playoffs or post-season superlatives. Last year’s district defensive MVP, JT Van Gelder, who has committed to play ball next year for Paris Junior College, is currently leading the team in batting average, posting a .429 avg. Look for this year’s staff to be led by Wichita State committee, RHP Robby Evans.
Key Returning Players: 2B JT Van Gelder, INF Mario Quintanilla, RHP Robby Evans and CF Judd Presley.
Frisco High Raccoons – 2014: (23-15) 4th Seed, UIL Regional Quarterfinalists
The Raccoons will certainly miss the leadership of do-it-all Brennen Fischer, a 2014 first team all-district utility infielder and the team’s leader in earned run average (1.77) last season, and the power of former first baseman P.J. Harris, now attending Alabama State University.
However, with Grant Kilmer looking to lead the staff (1.75 ERA in 2014) and Blake Welch (7-1 in 2014) slotted in as the likely number two starter, the Raccoons have more than enough pitching to challenge for one of the four playoff spots.
As far as offense goes, catcher Andrew Miller and last year’s district newcomer of the year, Ryan Vilade, will look to pace a lineup of grinders eager to put runs on the board.
Key Returning Players: C Andrew Miller, 3B/P Blake Welch, OF/P Grant Kilmer, Ryan Vilade
Frisco Centennial Titans – 2014: (13-14) 6th place
The Titans were a relatively young team in 2014, as can be expected since they lost 16 seniors – eight of whom went on to play post-high school baseball – from their 2013 district championship squad.
On holdover from that immensely talented team is senior shortstop Nolan Ritchie, who has committed to play at Paris Junior College next season. For the Titans to scratch their way into the postseason picture, look for Ritchie and right-hander Cooper McCain to lead the way.
Key Returning Players: SS Nolan Ritchie, OF Jason Kothera, 3B Clay Webb, RHP Cooper McCain
Frisco Heritage Coyotes – 2014: (7-21) 8th place
The Heritage Coyotes football team enjoyed a deep run into the playoffs this past fall. The baseball team, however, has had it rough over the last two seasons, finishing next to last and dead last, respectively.
For 2015 to be any different from the last two seasons, it’ll be up to star QB, and speedy outfielder, Malik Walker and fellow senior, RHP Tyler Kappler.
Key Returning Players: CF Malik Walker, RHP Tyler Kappler, INF Andrew Puglielli, INF Zach Wilson
Frisco Independence Knights – 2014: N/A
The Frisco Independence Knights were able to secure one win during their inaugural football season, which is no easy task. There might be rough waters ahead as the Knights embark on their maiden voyage into the seas of baseball. Wins won’t come easy, but thanks to the very talented OF/P David Clairmont, and the versatile starting QB Kyle Saddler, Independence will win their fair share of games.
Key Returning Players: N/A
Frisco Lone Star Rangers – 2014: (18-13) 3rd place (District 10-3A), UIL Area Finalists
Over the first half of the 2014 football season, the Lone Star Rangers made their transition from 3A to 5A look like a leisurely stroll through the park. Their pigskin success was due in no small part to QB Jason Shelley, who will ply his trade at shortstop on the diamond once again.
Baseball, of course, is a different beast, but Lone Star boasts enough talent to equal their playoff success from last season, despite jumping up two divisional levels.
Frisco Lone Star, top-to-bottom just might have the most talented team in the district. Senior-heavy and loaded with multi-sport stars, the Rangers’ roster includes seven players who earned all-district honors in 2014.
With three seniors returning after producing first-team all-district wins in Austin DeLeon, Nick Broadway and Garron Sanders, you’d better believe the Rangers will be in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Key Returning Players: P/OF Nick Broadway, P/OF Garron Sanders, UT/P Austin DeLeon, P/C Jared Eckert, SS/OF Jason Shelley
Frisco Wakeland Wolverines – 2014: (23-11) 3rd place, UIL Bi-District
The Wakeland Wolverines baseball team has been such a powerhouse in recent years that last year’s bi-district finish could be viewed as a letdown. Their excellence is due in no small measure to head coach Barry Rose, who boasts 141 wins during his five-year tenure at Wakeland.
The Wolverines, thanks to seniors Johnny Gonzales (2014 2nd Team All-District) and Brady Manning (2014 1st Team AD) have one of the better outfields in the district. A relatively young pitching staff anchored by junior Andrew Davis and sophomore Jared Martin, will have to step up to keep Wakeland in the playoff picture.
Key Returning Players: RF/P Johnny Gonzales, CF Brady Manning, SS Dylan Delashaw, P Andrew Davis