Having already secured a playoff spot, Atascocita went into last Tuesday’s game with Kingwood looking for revenge from a 15-1 loss earlier in the season. The first meeting between these two was decided early when the Mustangs jumped all over an Eagle team that seemed to wilt under the pressure of such a big game.
The rematch, however, played out a little differently, albeit with the same result, as the Mustangs won 8-5. Pressure didn’t crack the Eagles this time, their defense did.
Atascocita struck first in the top of the opening inning when Grant Clyde reached first on a bunt single and scored on Clay Shrader’s double to left center. Shrader’s RBI set the stage for a career 3-for-3 night, knocking in all five of the Eagles’ runs.
Kingwood would answer in the first inning largely in part to the first defensive lapse by Atascocita’s defense. After setting down the first two batters with ease, pitcher Conn McWilliams allowed the first Kingwood hit of the night past a diving second baseman. Following the hit, Kingwood’s Brad Evans lifted a flyball into right field in what would appear to be the final out of the inning. Eagle right fielder Bronson Buell settled under the ball and caught it, but dropped it trying to exchange the ball to his throwing hand.
That error allowed Mike Pierce to bat with two runners on and he connected for a three-run home run over the left center wall, giving the Mustangs a 3-1 lead after one inning.
Kingwood tacked on another run in the second on two hits taking a 4-1 lead and letting the air out of the Eagle faithful.
Refusing to go quietly, shortstop Thomas Doughtery led off the third inning with a bunt single and took second off a throwing error from Mustang pitcher Chris Churchwell. A missed sacrifice bunt from Chris Martinez accounted for the first out, but the Eagles would load the bases off a walk and Clyde’s second hit of the night.
That set the stage for Shrader’s biggest hit of this season as he connected on a ball that slipped just inside the right field foul pole for a grand-slam and a 5-4 Eagle lead.
“Right before I hit it, I was just thinking that all I wanted was a single to drive in a few runs,” Shrader said. “After it left my bat, I was praying that it would stay fair.”
The momentum shifted to Atascocita, but Kingwood battled back and scored one more in the bottom of the inning, tying the game 5-5.
Matt Sheppard, replaced McWilliams and pitched a perfect fourth inning before running into trouble in the fifth. After giving up a lead-off home run to David Tittle, a single and error on first baseman Cody Evans added more fuel to the Kingwood fire. Evans would again hurt the Eagle cause when he lost a foul pop-up on the first base side. That gave pinch-hitter Mark Mendez another chance and he made good driving in the second run of the inning on a fielder’s choice ground out.
Atascocita managed three more hits over the final two innings but could not rally back, losing 8-5.
“We gave them this game,” coach Eric Matthews said. “If we don’t drop a routine pop fly in the first inning, the whole complexion of the game is changed, not to mention the two errors in the fifth that would have ended the inning. But you have to hand it to Kingwood, they capitalized on our mistakes and that is what you have to do to win.”
The battles between these two teams are sure to become the fiercest rivalry in the district and one can only imagine what will happen if they meet in the playoffs.
Photo: Right fielder Bronson Buell attempts to throw out a Mustang runner advancing to third base. Photo by Wesley Orton
Thousands of high school athletes take the field everyday with dreams of going to college as a football player. What they may not realize is that of all the collegiate football players in all the universities, only one percent make it to NFL. Statistically speaking, 99% of them will not have their dreams come true and will have to fall back on another career. The majority of that 99% will not have anything to fall back on.
That is not the case for three Humble High School football players. Jesse Hernandez, Josh Raglon and Sean McMillan are hitting their schoolbooks as hard as they hit the playbook.
“There is so much after football,” Hernandez said. “You must have a good career that you can depend on.”
Raglon agrees, “I realize that football might not always be there.”
You have to wonder if they were born with this attitude or if someone pushes them toward greatness.
“My mom pushes me,” McMillan said. “If I ever brought home a bad grade, I had to show it to my dad,” he said with a wide-eyed smile.
“I would like to take care of my mom and give back to her all that she did for me,” Hernandez proudly remarks.
Hernandez is ranked ninth in his junior class and is already getting interest from Harvard from the academic level.
“I would love to get a degree in business and what better school than Harvard,” Hernandez said.
For Sean, it is engineering and Josh wants a career in psychology, but all agree that school is more valuable in the long term.
“The typical lifespan of an NFL player is 5-10 years. You have to do something after that,” Raglon said.
“I started in private school where the expectations are higher, so I just carried that over and expect more from myself,” McMillan said.
Success is not given, it is earned and this trio is doing what it takes to guarantee they have the best shot at success, on or off the field.
Photo: Jesse Hernandez (4.73 GPA), Sean McMIllan (4.6 GPA) and Josh Raglon (4.1GPA) are leading the way in the classroom and on the field.
Photo by Kathy Parks
Two Humble High School seniors signed contracts for football scholarships. Brady Faggard, left, is a punter and kicker, who made first team all-district kicker, second team all-region kicker and first team all academic. Faggard, who hopes for an agricultural-business degree, signed with Prairie View A&M University. Offensive lineman Chase Beasley made second team all-district and first team all academic. He signed with the University of Mary in North Dakota. Beasley plans to study chemical engineering. The athletes are pictured with head football coach Walt Beasley. Photo by Kathy Parks
With the wind blowing hard across the field and a storm on the way, the Mustang baseball team wanted to take care of business as quickly as possible. After one inning of play, it appeared that they may just get their wish, but they ended up having to fight until the end.
Chris Churchwell took the mound Tuesday night and immediately ran into some trouble with Atascocita scratching out the first run of the game on two hits and one error. Kingwood would answer in the bottom of the inning thanks to a defensive lapse from the Eagles.
Eagle pitcher Conn McWilliams sat down the first two batters with ease by inducing a easy grounout to shortstop and striking out Jordan Brewster. It is always calmest before the storm and McWilliams fell victim a fielding error on right fielder Bronson Buell. After a two-out single by David Tittle, Brad Evans’ routine fly ball to right field would be caught, then dropped allowing him to reach base and Mike Pierce to take the plate. Pierce stepped up and deposited McWilliams’ offering over the left center fence for a three run home run that bounced off the metal buildings behind Mustang field.
Shouting all the way up the first base line, Pierce and company seemed well on their way to easily overcoming the young Eagle team. Another run in the second inning off two hits pushed the score to 4-1, in favor of Kingwood.
The third inning started off rocky for Churchwell and got worse as it continued. Thomas Doughtery began the Eagle rally with a bunt single and took second on a Churchwell throwing error. A one-out walk put two batters on and bases were loaded following a single through the left side of the infield. That brought Eagle right fielder Clay Shrader to the plate who hit a slicing fly ball just inside the foul pole and over the right field fence for a grand slam, giving the Eagles a 5-4 lead. Chruchwell settled down and retired the next two batters easily, ending the inning.
Kingwood again answered in the bottom of the inning when Geoff Perrott doubled off the fence, driving in Evans who reached base on his second hit of the night. Two hits and one run later, the score was tied 5-5.
Michael Oros came on to pitch in the top of the fourth inning and retired six straight Eagle batters gaining the eventual win. Kingwood padded their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when David Tittle led off the inning with a laser beam shot over the left center fence. The Mustangs didn’t stop there as Evans again singled to left field and stole second base. a routine groundball off the bat of Pierce led to an Eagle error on the first baseman when he pulled his foot off the bag trying to throw out Evans going to third. With two on and no outs, pinch-hitter Mark Mendez grounded out into a fielder’s choice, scoring the Mustangs seventh run.
Kingwood tacked on one more run in the sixth on two hits pushing the score to 8-5. Pierce took the mound in the top of the sixth, allowing three hits over the next two innings, but recorded the save for the Mustangs.
The victory secures a playoff spot for the Mustangs, who will represent District 21-5A along with district champion Beaumont West Brook, and runners-up Atascocita and Baytown Sterling.
Photo: Jordan Brewster lines a single into center field in the third inning of the game against the Eagles. Photo by Wesley Orton
Fans were treated to a classic pitchers duel Friday night at North Shore High School were the Kingwood Lady Mustangs’ ace pitcher, Amanda Crabtree, out-pitched Amanda Newberry and the LaPorte Lady Bulldogs in a 14 inning marathon 1-0 victory.
The Lady Mustangs were in a must-win situation of the best-of-three series due to their loss the previous evening, 4-1.
Crabtree, a senior at Kingwood and recent Oklahoma State signee struck out 14 Bulldog batters. She was supported by excellent defense in the field, anchored by sophomore shortstop Courtney Enocksen, improving her pitching record to 18-5.
Pitching was definitely a premium as Kingwood could manage only seven hits over the 14 innings and LaPorte, only six.
The Lady Mustangs had a golden opportunity to score in the bottom of the second inning as Crabtree led off with a single to center field. Enocksen followed with a hard shot to the pitcher who managed to get the out at second, but could not get Encoksen out at first to complete the double play. Enocksen advanced to second on an error by the catcher and attempted to score the first run when Landry Moore doubled to center field. LaPorte center fielder Lauren Bunch threw a laser to the home getting Enocksen out before she could score.
Neither team could mount a scoring threat until the 12th inning when LaPorte DH Tori Cummings lead off with a double. Chelsea Sanchez followed with a walk and Lacey Olive laid down a sacrifice allowing both runners to advance. With runners on second and third and only one out, Crabtree buckled down, induced a ground-out and struck out the next batter to end the threat.
The bottom of the 14th began with Mustang, Amber Klug reaching first on an error. Kelly Lyman followed with a single to left pushing Lyman to second. With two outs, Crabtree stepped up to the plate and lined a single to centerfield. Again Bunch came up gunning for home, but Klug slid to the outside of the plate barely touching it with her hand and avoiding the tag for the Kingwood win.
Saturday afternoon was the deciding game with the winner advancing to face top-ranked Pearland. After throwing well over 200 pitches Friday night, Crabtree took the mound again and threw a one-hit shutout as Kingwood run-ruled LaPorte 10-0. Just as they did last night, the Kingwood defense flashed their leather all over the field.
“I am very pleased with our defense and their ability to not commit any errors,” Coach Susan Willis said. “And what you can say about Amanda (Crabtree)? She really stepped up to pitch again with so little rest.”
Kingwood brought their offensive game Saturday, pounding out 10 runs in five innings. RBI hits came from Lyman, Crabtree and Enocksen in the first three innings pushing the score to 5-0 in favor of Kingwood. Five more runs scored in the fifth as Crabtree and Bergeron tripled, Klug doubled and sophomore Sarah Reid singled to finish the attack.
Next on the Mustang’s plate is Pearland who has a long history of playoff success. They also boast pitcher Rhianon Klesling who has already signed with softball powerhouse Texas A & M. Next week’s times and locations will be determined later in the week.
Photo: Amanda Crabtree attempts to continue the offensive onslaught against LaPorte in a bi-district playoff game. Photo by Terry Roberts
The Mustangs lost some ground in the District 21-5A race last week after losing the season series against the Bruins of Beaumont's West Brook High School. To their surprise, district leader Baytown Sterling lost to their crosstown rival opening the door for Kingwood to climb back to the top of the district. In order to do that, they had to take care of their own business, beginning with Humble Tuesday night at KHS.
Kingwood came out looking for revenge from their defeat earlier in the year at the hands of the Wildcats. Chris Churchwell toed the rubber for the Mustangs looking to pave the way for their victory. His crafty pitching stymied the Humble batters, allowing only one hit through five innings.
As Churchwell took care of business on the mound, Mike Pierce took care of business at the plate. Pierce went 3 for 3 with four RBI's, including a three-run home run adding to his ever-growing statistics this season. The Mustangs scored their first run in the bottom of the first inning when David Tittle doubled to left center. Brad Evans stepped up to the plate and drove Evans home with a clutch single, giving Kingwood a 1-0 lead.
After a scoreless second inning, Humble managed to tie the game on a solo home run off the bat of Worsham. Churchwell did not allow that to rattle him and continued to set down the rest of the Wildcat batters in order ending the inning, 1-1.
Pierce made his first impact of the game in the bottom of the third inning when his single down the right field line scored Jordan Brewster. Evans, who was hit by a pitch, moved to third base on Pierce's hit and scored on a groundout from Rocky Prestifillipo.
Climbing back on the mound and now leading 3-1, Churchwell continued his domination by retiring the next seven batters in order, keeping his team in the lead and cementing victory. Even though three runs were more than enough on this night, Pierce and company were not through making noise and giving the Humble pitching a staff a headache.
The bottom of the fifth inning started off with more Mustang base-runners littering the base paths. Pierce stepped to plate, hoping to clean it up a little and clean it up he did with a resounding three-run home run and a 6-1 lead. Jordan Raney answered that with a two-run blast of his own in the bottom of the sixth, capping off the scoring at 8-1.
Kingwood coach David Denny pulled Churchwell after five innings, allowing Pierce to shut the door for good. He and Churchwell combined on a six strikeout, one hit performance that gave Kingwood the revenge they were looking for and a chance at taking the district race down to the wire. Next on the Mustang radar is Atascocita, who is looking for some revenge of their own, Tuesday night at Kingwood high school.
Photo: Kingwood pitcher Chris Churchwell struck out six and only allowed one hit in his victory over Humble. Photo by Wesley Orton