In 2009 the Waxahachie Indians had Colton Cain, Drew Harrison and a load of talented players that helped the team finish second in District 16-4A. Last season the Indians were young and missed out on the playoffs before the UIL bounced the Indians from 16-4A to 15-4A.
Entering its first season back in 15-4A Waxahachie’s goal is to reach the playoffs but the road might be tougher than it was last season.
Cleburne, Midlothian, Ennis and Hewitt Midway made the playoffs from 16-4A last season and three of those teams are now gone from Waxahachie’s path to the playoffs.
Waxahachie, Ennis and Corsicana move from 16-4A to 15-4A this season and join Red Oak, Mesquite Poteet, West Mesquite, Forney, Terrell and Lancaster.
“I think the district is going to be really good. You have got quality ball teams and the key is all these team return their guys. Corsicana returns every player and they have legit arms over there. We return every player. Poteet lost some guys but have two arms back and one of them is really good,” Waxahachie head coach Tracy Wood said. “I think Red Oak did lose a key pitcher and catcher while Ennis basically brings everybody back but one left handed pitcher. Forney brings back all but one left handed pitcher so besides being quality teams they return their guys making for a tough district.”
Poteet won the District 15-4A championship last season while Red Oak, Terrell and Forney made the playoffs.
In the new district five teams made the playoffs last year and Wood does not see much of a difference between the teams lost and the teams added.
“You get rid of Midlothian and Midway and you get Poteet and Forney. I don’t know that there is a whole lot of difference there. I think there is going to be a good baseball team staying home just like last year,” Wood said.
With the addition of the Mesquite schools and the nine-team district the schedule takes a huge hit.
Waxahachie normally has a couple non-district games outside of tournaments to prepare for district, not so this year.
After two tournaments the Indians will jump right into district with Terrell before playing in another tournament.
The early start is bad enough, but add the fact that teams will have to play three games a week in district to accommodate Mesquite’s two baseball fields between five schools in the district.
“What the nine-team district has done to us is we have three weeks in a row where we are playing Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. There is a couple combinations for that. One, there are nine teams and two, Mesquite schools have two fields for five teams and have to almost play everyday to get all their games in,” Wood said. “Pitching is so important any way, but I think pitching is going to be even more important. You will not be able to set a two-man rotation, you will have to come up with more than that.”
When Cain and Harrison helped lead the Indians to the playoffs in 2009 Wood was able to set up a two-man rotation to ensure he had the pitcher he wanted in the key games.
This season it will be tough to set such a schedule and teams like Corsicana with ample pitching will be able to rise to the top of the heap.
“It is going to be a tough year for us if teams can field a solid three-man rotation. We have got arms, we have just got to figure out who those arms are and I think we are getting there. I feel a whole lot better right now than at this time last year knowing who we have got,” Wood said.
“Looking at what I know about the district, Corsicana will have no problem with a bigger rotation. They have five quality arms with two guys that are really good. You are not going to find many high school baseball teams, I don’t care who you are, that have three quality start guys. I guess it is going to be how you set that rotation and who goes against who.”
District play starts March 8 against Terrell for the Indians before it’s nothing but district starts March 15 with a game in Red Oak.
Cody Brown and Kyle McLeroy have started on the varsity since 2009 and after spending two years facing teams in 16-4A are ready for a new challenge.
“Our district has always been tough and will always be that way. We love the competition,” Brown said.