Entering the playoffs, Kingwood ran off six straight victories and squeaked by Atascocita as the number two seed. That clutch performance down the stretch earned them a bi-district playoff series against District 22-5A third place finisher, Pasadena Dobie. The Longhorns entered the series with a 15-15 record having played in a district that was as equally tough as Kingwood’s. Rain pushed the Thursday night game back to Friday, but the Mustangs came prepared. Hosting the game at Andy Wells Field, their win could only be described as a nail-biter. Dobie opened strong with three consecutive singles to load the bases. Mustang pitcher Chris Churchwell minimized the damage by striking out two of the next three batters and only allowing one run to score. Dobie continued to pressure Kingwood by getting runners in scoring position each of the next three innings. Thanks to a stellar Mustang defense, highlighted by Rocky Presifillipo's throw from left field to get an out at the plate, they were able to prevent Dobie from scoring any more runs. Through the first four and a half innings, Kingwood fans were worried that the sole run on the board would be enough to beat them. In the bottom of the fourth inning, thingschanged as Prestifillipo followed his blue star defensive play with a solo home run over the center field fence. The fans went crazy and the Mustang bench ran to the plate to congratulate their star of the game. Churchwell and reliever Mark Mendez combined to shutout the Longhorns the rest of the way and Dobie's Greg Coppens matched their performance, forcing the game into extra innings. With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Kingwood's shortstop, David Tittle, blasted a two-run, walk-off home run over the Mustang scoreboard, giving Kingwood a 3-1 victory and a 1-0 edge in the best of three series. After a tense match the night before, Kingwood fans were hoping things would be a little easier Saturday at Dobie's Maguire Field. Thanks to the Mustang offense, the fans got their wish. Mike Pierce started on the mound for Kingwood and went all six innings allowing only one run on six hits. He was supported by 14 hits and 10 runs from the bats of the Mustang team. The scoring started early when Jordan Raney led off with a single. After a sacrifice bunt moved him over, Brad Evans connected with an RBI single to break the scoreless tie. The top of the third began with a Jordan Brewster double. Tittle followed that with an encore to his walk-off home run the night before, as he belted another shot over the fence, making the score 3-0. Following a hit batsman, Pierce helped his own cause with a two-run home run of his own, pushing the score to 5-0. The fourth inning proved to be much of the same with a Tommy Richardson RBI single, a double from Raney, two walks and another two RBI hit from Evans, finishing the score at 10-1. Pierce nailed down the game keeping the Longhorn bats quiet, while striking out nine. Next up for Kingwood is the area match against District 23-5A representative, Clear Lake. With Atascocita and Baytown Sterling both making early exits, Kingwood and district champion Beaumont West Brook are the only teams left representing District 21-5A. Locations and times of their next games will be determined later in the week. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Photo: David Tittle is congratulated by his team as he crosses the plate after hitting his second home run of the series. Photos by Wesley Orton
To be the best at anything, one must put forth a lot of practice mixed with goals and ambition stirred with the direction of a mentor of some type. So, it should come to no surprise that the Kingwood Gymnastics Team is having one of the best years that it has had in a long time. The regional competition results include the girl’s team finishing in second place and the boy’s team finishing in third place which means both teams advanced to the state-wide competition taking place in San Angelo, Texas. “This is the first year in about three or four years that the boys have been qualified for state” said Kevin Reiland, one of the gymnastics coaches. Reiland was also named “Girl’s Coach of the Year” for the region. The teams consist of twelve girls and five boys. There are four seniors that have a chance for nationals during this competition. Those seniors include Julia Croes, Katie Brown, Dina Sokol and Brian Desmarais. The regional competition included numerous placements in the competition. Brian Desmarais placed fourth in the all around competition by placing ninth in the floor exercise, fourth in the pommel horse, fourth in the rings, second in the vault, ninth in the parallel bars and third in the high bars. Matt Amodeo placed tenth in the rings. Katie Brown earned third place honors and Erin Williamson earned sixth place honors in the all around competition. Katie placed sixth in the vault, third on the uneven bars, fifth on the balance beam and ninth on the floor exercise. Erin placed fifth in vault, ninth on uneven bars and seventh on the balance beam. Julia Croes placed fourth on the balance beam, seventh on the floor and seventh on the floor. Dina Sokol placed eighth on the balance beam. Megan Rafferty placed eighth on the floor exercise. The gymnasts practice before school and, on average, about three hours after school. About 90 percent of the students practice at Rowland Ballard School of Gymnastics in Kingwood where Reiland also teaches. Reiland has been with the Kingwood High School Gymnastics Team for eight years. This is the first year coaching for Brenda Ostermanray. “Dave Ballard and Brian Jarrell have also trained with some of the students for a very long time” said Reiland. Some of the schools that might make the competition tough at state this year include San Angelo Central, LD Bell and Round Rock. The Kingwood High School’s Gymnastics Team has spent six years in a row ranked in the top five teams in Texas. Photo: Varsity gymnasts pose with their second and third place team trophies after the regional competition.
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