The Lady Wildcats of Humble High School came up short last Tuesday, falling to West Brook 9-1. At first, the outcome of the game looked bright for the Wildcats. The girls began strong with a run in the first inning by third baseman Heather Schwalbach, giving Humble an early lead over the Westbrook Bruins. That lead would only hold for one inning. Unfortunately, the Wildcats would struggle to gain the lead the remainder of the game, emphasizing one of their challenges this year. “We lost a bunch of girls this year, but we have a bunch of talent,” said coach Carol Sullivan. By the fourth inning, Westbrook was up by five runs over the Wildcats. Schwalbach made a successful block at third base to end any chance of Westbrook adding to their lead. Humble pitcher, Dara Palms, continued to work to give Humble the advantage. Palms pitched a quick fifth inning for the Wildcats, thanks in large part to great defensive plays by centerfielder Jill Gardner and shortstop Kirby Cott. However, the Bruins’ lead was too much to overcome. By the end of the game, the girls were discouraged, yet looking optimistically to growing from past experiences. Perhaps the greatest challenge to date for the team is projecting confidence while on the field. “Our lack of confidence is a hurdle the girls are working to overcome through working hard in practices,” Sullivan said. It is her hope that each of the girls reflects on each game and looks for ways to improve her personal performance. “My proudest moment of the season was when we trailed in the district game against Channelview. We were behind by five but ended up winning the game,” said Sullivan. “The future plans of our team include working on becoming better offensively as well as defensively and working to have fewer errors over time. If you have fewer mistakes, you will generally win the game,” Sullivan said. For more information about Humble High School, the Wildcats or any of the athletic programs, visit Photo: Dara Palms, pitches in the third inning against Westbook. Photo by Beverly Reynolds
The Humble Wildcats rolled into town with an already rough season weighing heavy on their shoulders. Determined to put that behind them and start anew in district play, they came out swinging, hoping to leave AHS with a statistical and moral victory. They were one inning away from doing just that. Clay Shrader took the mound for the Eagles and was well on his way to pitching a great game. When he wasn’t striking out Wildcat batters, he was supported by stellar defense in the field. An early humble threat in the first inning was snubbed out by an inning-ending double play. After allowing a single in the third inning, Shrader and first baseman Conn McWilliams teamed up to pick the Humble runner off first base, once again ending any hopes of a Wildcat rally. The Eagle defense and pitching was matched through much of the game by Humble. It took three hard fought innings before AHS could manage a hit of their own. Grant Clyde led off the fourth inning with a double and was brought home on a Shrader double staking the Eagles to a 1–0 lead. Base running mistakes cost the Eagles any hope of adding runs in the inning as Shrader was tagged out in a rundown and later Kevin Semien was doubled off of first on a routine fly ball to right field. The fifth inning started off with an everyday groundball out to shortstop Thomas Dougherty. Humble followed that with a single through the left side of the infield and another hard hit shot gave the Wildcat runners first and second with two outs in the inning. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move up to second and third just a few feet away from tying up the game. Good pitching to the next batter resulted in an easy groundball back to the mound and an inning-ending third out. With the way Shrader was pitching, the Eagle faithful had to be thinking that one run would be enough to secure their victory. Humble, however, had other plans. The first Humble batter of the sixth inning would take a hanging curveball off the left field fence for a standup double. One pitch later, another hanging curve would find itself emphatically deposited over the left center fence, giving Humble a 2–1 lead and even bigger emotional edge over the Eagles. Shrader settled down and struck out the next three batters to end the top of the sixth. Clyde started the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Shrader followed with a redeeming single to give the Eagles two men on and no outs. Semiens' sacrifice bunt moved up both Eagle runners and bases were loaded when McWilliams walked with two outs. Knowing he had nowhere to put another runner, the Wildcat pitcher crumbled under pressure and walked in the tying run. AHS would not be satisfied with only one run as Chris Martinez stepped up to the plate and smashed a two run single up the middle pushing the Eagle lead to 4–2. Another run crossed the plate on a wild pitch and the inning ended 5–2 in favor of the Eagles. Renewed with an even bigger lead than before, Shrader gallantly took the mound in the seventh inning, striking out the final two batters of the inning, giving him seven strikeouts on the night and securing a third straight district victory for AHS, who sits alone at the top of District 21-5A at 13–5, 3–0 in district play. If the stars remain aligned the way they are now, March 30 will be a clash of the titans when Kingwood comes to visit the Eagles for the first time this year and first place in the district hanging in the balance. Photo: AHS pitcher, Clay Shrader, struck out seven Wildcat batters and knocked in the first run of the game in the Eagles 5-2 victory.
Bad weather and district opponents wreaking havoc on playoff hopes Losses to Sterling and Kingwood leave a bad taste on a promising year By Wesley Orton Tribune Intern A major storm system blew in during Spring Break, causing a ton of problems for Atascocita High School sports, but for the soccer team, the rain was the least of their problems. Going into their game with Baytown Sterling last Monday night, the Eagles knew they had to find a way to get the victory after failing to gain ground on Channelview when the two tied 1-1 March 9. With the top two playoff spots all but sewn up by Kingwood and Baytown Sterling, the Eagles found themselves with an uphill battle for one of the last two remaining playoff slots in District 21-5A. Slow starts have characterized the boys team, but in most games they have been able to overcome that hurdle and press on. This was not the case against Sterling. “At halftime, we were down 1-0 and I tried to encourage our boys to start playing their game of pressure defense and counter attacks,” head Coach Alex Rogina said. They started to exert themselves more in the second half and evened the game on a goal by freshman Eric Gomez. “Because the JV game was rained out, I was able to bring Eric to the varsity game and see how he played at this level,” said Rogina. Apparently, he fit right in as Xavier Basiden assisted on the goal that sparked hope in the Eagle team. That hope did not last long as Sterling pressed even harder and cracked the Eagle defense for four more goals in the second half. Atascocita got one more goal on a penalty kick from David DiRocco to pull within three goals 5-2, but that is how the game ended. It didn't get any easier for the Eagles as Kingwood lay in wait for them Wednesday, March 14. After a one hour rain delay, the teams took the field for their final game against each other this year. Kingwood has been the district powerhouse all year and looks to make a serious run at the state championship when playoffs begin next week, so the Eagles had their work cut out for them. “Our game plan was to put as much pressure on them and match their physical play with man-on-man defense,” said Rogina. Their strategy worked the entire first half as a younger, less experienced Eagle team held the Mustangs in check and a 0-0 tie going into halftime. The second half did not go as well as the first and the senior laden Kingwood team began to exert their will on the field. Near misses by Nick Sulis and Pablo DiRocco kept the Mustang defense on their toes, but Kingwood proved to be too powerful and took home the win 3-0. “I told our boys I was proud of them and this game was a learning experience as we have the entire team returning next year,” Rogina said. The future is definitely bright for the Atascocita boys soccer team as they plan to rewrite the district standings next year. Photo: Forward Nic Pulis is the leading scorer for the Eagles in the 2007 season. Photo by Wesley Orton
Kingwood baseball has a winning tradition and the Mustang opening game followed that tradition by rapping up its first victory in a district game with the defeat of the Baytown Lee Ganders in the eighth inning with a score of 2-1. In preseason, the Mustangs enjoyed a winning streak while playing some pretty tough teams. The 11 preseason games kept them on the road and on their toes. The last five games in a row were wins, making it a bit of a puzzle as they struggled to get a run on the board until the seventh inning. Lee had scored only one run in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the seventh, Matt Brown got a double and Jordan Brewster singled to move Brown to third. On David Title’s fly to right field, Brown scored and sent the game into extra innings, where a second run was made by pinch runner Ryan Grundy off a hit made by senior Brad Evans. At the pitchers' mound, senior Mike Pierce started for the Mustangs and was relieved by Clint Stover in the top of the seventh. Pierce gave up only one run and struck out six. Stover faced four hitters in the eighth for his first win of the season and what became the Mustang’s sixth win in a row. Off to a great start, the Mustangs opened the 2007 season with a brand new, 85 by 92-foot batting cage built with funds provided by Humble Planet Ford, the Kingwood All Sports Booster Club and the Friends of Kingwood Baseball. The new batting cage replaced the old slab and netting on the top with a metal structure complete with sky lights and three kinds of Astroturf. The facility houses several movable cages which will slide over to allow teams to practice undercover during bad weather. “The one thing it still needs is power,” said Tom Broadway, store director for Planet Ford in Humble/Kingwood. That will be the next project for the baseball supporters lead by Randall Reed’s Planet Ford. Booster members feared that the batting cage project would take 10 to 20 years to fund, but through the efforts of Planet Ford, the facility is now in service. The facility bears the name of Randall Reed’s Planet Ford and Broadway, on behalf of Planet Ford, received the honor of throwing the first pitch of the 2007 season. The Kingwood Mustangs will play at their home field each Tuesday and will extend crowd-pleasing promotional offers such as free hot dog nights. Each Tuesday, fans in the stands get a chance to win free Tee-shirts. For more information on Kingwood baseball visit the district Web site or Photo: Senior and righthander Mike Pierce started for the Mustangs in their opening game against Baytown Lee. The game brought the team home to the Andy Wells Field after traveling for preseason games. Photo by Kathy Parks
Spring weather wreaked havoc on the Humble Wildcats as they prepared to battle Beaumont Westbrook. The team loaded on buses and made the long drive only to find a field spotted with water. Field keepers attempted to squeegee the field off and as word came that torrential rain had canceled the girls game, the referees for the boys called the game due to lightning. Thursday, the Wildcats made a second drive to Beaumont. “We will be going to the playoffs,” said Wildcat parent Martin Parker. “Kingwood will be in the first seat, and either Baytown or Humble will be in the second seat, depending on the results of the last couple of games. Last week, the team was excited after their victory. This week, they were just tired.” The Beaumont game also resulted in a victory for the Wildcats, 2-1, and the team has only one more district game against Port Arthur Memorial before the playoffs begin. “Everyone has expected us to go to the playoffs again this year,” said his son, Morgan Parker, who is number 10 for the Wildcats. “Last year we went to playoffs and the team played well; we just got out hustled by North Shore. We have a lot of seniors this year and most of them went to playoffs last year.” Parker said he was confident that the team would get to at least the third or fourth round of competition, but he admitted that competition at that level will be very tough as they play the best of the best. Parker has enjoyed the competition and is a strong academic student who will benefit from the program. He has already received offers from York College in Nebraska and Texas Lutheran. Parker plans to major in either business administration or accounting and continues to look at offers from other colleges as his senior year winds down. At the Westbrook game, the Wildcats' opponent enjoyed home team advantage. Humble came out rather flat. The first goal of the game was scored by player 20, Juan Castelanos, midway through the first half and a second goal was added 10 minutes later. In the second half, there was a strong defense by Nick Gebhart, Ludwig Vogt and Chris Carranza. There was a lot of pressure on the defense and it was just a matter of time before Westbrook took advantage of an error and scored a single point. Both playoff-bound teams played their hardest and the close game ended in a narrow victory for the Wildcats. “We have a diverse team with several players from countries in Central America,” said Parker. “Most of the seniors have played together for all four years, but many of us have been together for six.” The next game will be a home game and their slot in the playoffs will be firm. The team is satisfied with the work they've done this season and is looking forward to the playoffs. Photo: The Humble Wildcats have won six games, lost four and tied two. The team prepares to be one of the four teams from the district to go to the playoffs. Exiting the field are Cody Brown (4), Juan Murilo (5), Morgan Parker (10), Ludwig Vogt (7), Johathan Berreda (2) and Bruno Miauro (9).
The Lady Mustangs met the Humble Wildcats at the 'Cats' home field Friday night and took their third district victory with ease. The first inning looked as though the Wildcats might put up a fight, ending with only one run. But that was decisively altered by the end of the second. The Wildcats were unable to get a bat on the ball. The first batter was grazed by a pitch and advanced to first, stealing second and then third. That proved to be as far as the 'Cats would get. The 'Stangs scored six runs in the second inning with all-around strong hitting, including a big hit down the third base line by Lauren Kowal. Amanda Crabtree's pitching proved too much for the Wildcats to handle. The Wildcats played better defense for the remainder of the game, allowing the 'Stangs only three more runs. But with the 'Cats unable to get a hit off of Crabtree, the 10-run rule ended the game in the sixth inning, 10-0. Earlier in the week, the Lady Mustangs played Port Arthur Memorial at home and dealt them an even greater blow by winning 15-0 in the third inning. They also defeated Baytown Lee at home on Feb. 27, with only one loss so far in district play to Beaumont Westbrook. With great pitching, strong hitting and smart base running, the Kingwood girls, under the guidance of Coach Susan Willis, should look forward to a great season.