WEST FEATURE

Super Centex Coach of the Year Cory Beckham (left) and Player of the Year Preston Macik guided West to a 31-2-1 season that including a 27-game winning streak and a 3A state championship.

Staff photo— Jerry Larson

On most successful baseball teams, there are players the younger ones look up to and emulate.

In other words, they’re the team’s role models.

West had several of them this season that fit that bill after a 31-2-1 season in which it ran off 27 straight wins, including a 4-3 edging of Bishop to claim the Class 3A state championship.

But only one of them took home 19-3A MVP honors and also took the MVP award in that state championship game. That was Preston Macik, and that gave him the edge over a pair of teammates in Bailey Horn and Griffin Paxton as the Super Centex Player of the Year.

“He’s a multifaceted player. He’s strong, he’s fast, he hits 3-hole for us,” West coach Cory Beckham said. “He’s a really good pitcher. He throws strikes. He can throw the fastball by you. He can show finesse with the breaking ball. In the outfield, he can gun you down. He can chase down a ball in the gap. He showed in the reginonal final against Teague that he can lay down a bunt, which was weird but it was effective. He’s an overall talent, and I think a lot of players on our team look up to him as a talented player and even sometimes strive to be like him.”

Bosqueville’s Bret Mathis, Riesel’s Jase Embry and Robinson’s Pat Morrow were also considered for the award.

Macik was one of three pitchers, along with Horn and Paxton, who could be considered an ace for nearly any team around. Beckham said he never labeled any of them, but preferred to think about it as, “Whoever we put out there is our guy for that day,” and the ball was Macik’s for the state championship game.

He got off to a sluggish start, allowing two runs in the first inning and one more in the second. But Horn fired home to get a runner trying to score to end the second, and Macik settled down after that, retiring 14 of the next 15 he faced.

That put the Trojans within one out of the title, when the bottom of the Bishop order rose up.

A dribbler that bounced off the bag at third kept the game alive, and a rocket into the right-field corner from its No. 9-hitter scored a run and had the Badgers appearing it would be 90 feet from tying the game.

But the runner slid past the bag, and West third baseman Landon Koch kept the tag on to clinch the crown.

“It turned my mood around pretty fast,” Macik said. “I didn’t know what to think when he hit it, because it was 3-2 (count) and I wasn’t going to walk him. He put a pretty good swing on the ball, and luckily Bailey has a good arm, our shortstop (Paxton) does, too. I never thought Landon would have been that aggressive with the tag. It was just awesome.”

That crazy final play made Macik the winning pitcher, and his hit and RBI at the plate helped make his case as the MVP.

Macik finished with a .413 average, 45 hits and 31 RBIs while adding a 9-1 record with a 1.28 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings.

“I was just excited to pitch (in the championship game). We had that one-gamer against Academy, and I was a little upset that I didn’t get to pitch that game, but I know every time Bailey gets the ball he’s going to get the job done, too,” Macik said. “Every single time Bailey or I get the ball, we can get the job done and it’s going to be that way next year.”

The Trojans appear to be stacked with a talented roster for next season as well, with six of nine starters returning — including all three of thier most talented pitchers — and they are a competitive group that keeps one another focused in practice.

West will be a targeted team, much like Macik is among his teammates.

“Even if it’s in the offseason period when we’re racing, when we’re doing our speed and agility drills, they probably want to beat him,” Beckham said. “In the weight room they see all the weight on the bar and say I want to be strong like him.

“That’s not just for the varsity players now, but to the freshmen who are looking to their future, going ‘I want to be like that guy.’ That’s a hat he wears for our team, and it’s a big part of our success.”

Coach of the Year: Cory Beckham, West

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CORY BECKHAM

CORY BECKHAM Coach West Led his Trojans to 27-game winning streak, 3A state crown

During his tenure at West, Cory Beckham has had a number of talented teams that had state title hopes.

But in baseball, nothing is ever guaranteed.

Some of his best squads on paper fell short of the state tournament, and the 2012 team that reached the championship game was a bit of a surprise.

Beckham has arguably never been able to mold a more complete team than this season, and that carried the Trojans to the 3A crown.

It also helped make him the Super Centex Coach of the Year.

“It was a whatever it takes type of team,” Beckham said. “That showed so much in the state tournament. When we needed to make a pitch, our pitcher made a big pitch. When we needed a defensive play, we turned a double play or in the championship game we had two outfield assists. And we had timely hits that allowed us to score enough runs.”

Beckham claimed the award over a number of deserving coaches, most notably Randy Smith, who guided Crawford to within two outs of the 2A championship.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Trojans.

They dropped their first two games and tied Clifton in a tournament game to fall to 4-2-1 — but they never lost again, despite facing several quality times and falling behind in a number of games.

“I designed those warmup games against Salado and Robinson with a good opportunity of possibly losing a game there,” Beckham said. “If we don’t play well, we’re going to get beat. We come out against Salado and give up three runs in the first inning and don’t even have an out yet. The players, they once again took charge. We win, 6-3. We put together a great game against Robinson. It was just sound baseball – great pitching, timely hitting – and we beat them.”

Those wins let the Trojans know they were never out of a game, a lesson they applied in the state tournament when they fell behind Littlefield, 3-0, in the semifinals and Bishop, 2-0, in the final before turning those games around to bring home the second state gold in school history (1999).

“It was fun winning all the games. It’s not as easy on the inside as it is on the outside,” Beckham said. “The most pleasing part of it is just to watch where we are at the end compared to where we were at the start, each individual player and how they progress with their skills — hitting, pitching, defense and how it comes together on the field. It makes you have a lot of pride and satisfaction in the team, so it’s fun to be a part of.”

Newcomer of the Year: Eli Mendoza, Temple

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ELI MENDOZA

ELI MENDOZA Newcomer Fr., Temple Went 9-2 with 1.34 ERA, 86 strikeouts in his first year

Even if a coach hasn’t seen a player, he knows what he has coming into his program through the junior high ranks.

Somebody in town will certainly tell him what to expect. The question is whether the player will live up to his billing once he gets to high school.

That’s the situation Temple coach Craig Martin found himself in with freshman Eli Mendoza coming in.

He soon found out the buzz was right on this time.

“He was as advertised,” Martin said. “He’s a mature kid for a freshman, and for him to come in and pitch like he did, that’s about as good as it gets. It’s one thing for a kid to come in and play a position and hit for a decent average. But it’s another thing to be able to do the job on the mound. I’m glad we had him.”

Mendoza shined to a 9-2 record and a 1.34 ERA, and he was overpowering for as young as he is with 86 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings of work.

All of that helped the Wildcats grab the District 17-5A championship.

Mendoza also proved big moments weren’t too much for him to handle.

In bi-district against Livingston, he hurled a no-hitter in a 3-0 Game 2 win that kept the Wildcats’ season alive. They went on to win that series before falling to Tomball in the area round.

“He’s the kind of guy I like to watch,” Martin said. “He works fast, attacks the zone, throws three pitches, and the thing I like is he doesn’t get rattled. I don’t have to be a cheerleader for him, I don’t have to call timeout to settle things down. He’s very laid back and in control of emotions.”

Martin said he can run it up there at about 86 or 87 mph, and that velocity should only get better as he gets older and more mature physically.

But as with any player, he has room for improvement. Mendoza walked 30 batters as a freshman, a number he’d like to see drop.

“Being a young guy, the biggest problem was he had a tendency to overthrow and not just pitch,” Martin said. “For the most part he had total control over what he was trying to do. But I think sometimes he just got excited and overthew. Because of that, his pitch counts would get high because he’d throw a lot of balls. I just tell him, ‘Use your stuff and pitch, and you’ll be fine.’ ”


2015 SUPER CENTEX BASEBALL TEAM

First Team

PosPlayerClAvgRBIsSchool
CRagan ForrestSr.45025Lorena
IFTyler FarleyJr.48620Axtell
IFHobey HilandJr.33318Belton
IFBraden MurphySr.45237Crawford
IFGriffin PaxtonJr.43138West
OFPreston MacikJr.41331West
OFMatthew MilesSo.31818Midway
OFCoby PotvinSr.38016Belton
UTRiley ReichSr.55816Hamilton
DHJeff WardSo.42522Crawford
PitcherClW-LERAKSchool
Jase EmbryJr11-20.68169Riesel
Tanner FrickJr7-12.1266Belton
Bailey HornJr13-01.34120West
Bret MathisSr10-21.58124Bosqueville
Nate MoenningSr11-12.3768Crawford
Pat MorrowSr8-11.2759Robinson
Player of the year: Preston Macik, West
Newcomer of the year: Eli Mendoza, Temple
Coach of the year: Cory Beckham, West

Second Team

PosPlayerClAvgRBIsSchool
CDalton WiethornSo.43516West
IFChandler BoydSo.46523Groesbeck
IFBrett CainSo.42918China Spring
IFThomas MorehouseSr.41621Riesel
IFChase SortorSr.35922Belton
OFMitchell DonahueJr.42920Lorena
OFTristan GonzalezJr.40030West
OFBo PearsonJr.35137Crawford
UTBraden NemecSr.41518Crawford
DHBrooks EmbrySo.41415Riesel
PitcherClW-LERAKSchool
Tanner FieldsSr8-31.9364Axtell
Mikeal ParsonsSr6-21.6839Midway
Zach PottsSr8-21.6070Clifton
Austin SkinnerSr5-11.2546Teague
Trent StaffordSr6-02.3450Belton
Nick UrbantkeJr7-31.9779Lorena

Honorable mention

Cameron Whitman, Belton; Will Carpenter, Brock Kelley and Zach Mazza, Bosqueville; RayAndre Browning, Bremond; Cameron Jenkins, Dylan Norris and Ty Shriver, China Spring; Hunter Harris, Jordan Larance and Brayden Wise, Clifton; Colton Anderson and Ricky Gerik, Connally; Barclay Brunson, Crawford; Nathan Gonzales and Chris Olivas, Midway; Michael Davila and Tanner James, Robinson; Zach Epperson and Elijah Saldana, Troy; Terrance Barnes, Garrett Cox and Dylan Mathews, Valley Mills; Hudson Bradley, Luke Chavez and Alex Smith, Vanguard; Brett Gilchrist, Whitney

First-team profiles

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Forrest 2015

RAGAN FORREST Catcher Sr., Lorena 2-time 1st-teamer was 17-4A defensive MVP, hit .450

RAGAN FORREST

Catcher

Sr., Lorena

2-time

1st-teamer was 17-4A defensive MVP, hit .450

 
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TYLER FARLEY

TYLER FARLEY Infielder Jr., Axtell Longhorns’ Mr. Do It All hit .486, also went 5-0 on the mound

TYLER FARLEY

Infielder

Jr., Axtell

Longhorns’ Mr. Do It All hit .486, also went 5-0 on the mound

 
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HOBEY HILAND

HOBEY HILAND Infielder Jr., Belton 12-6A MVP batted .333 with 13 doubles and 3 home runs

HOBEY HILAND

Infielder

Jr., Belton

12-6A MVP batted .333 with 13 doubles and 3 home runs

 
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BRADEN MURPHY

BRADEN MURPHY Infielder Sr., Crawford Batted .452 with 13 doubles, 37 RBIs, went 9-1 as pitcher

BRADEN MURPHY

Infielder

Sr., Crawford

Batted .452 with 13 doubles, 37 RBIs, went 9-1 as pitcher

 
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GRIFFIN PAXTON

GRIFFIN PAXTON Infielder Jr., West Slick fielder at SS hit .431 with 37 RBIs, went 7-0 on the mound

GRIFFIN PAXTON

Infielder

Jr., West

Slick fielder at SS hit .431 with 37 RBIs, went 7-0 on the mound

 
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MATTHEW MILES

MATTHEW MILES Outfielder So., Midway Carried Panthers at the plate in district with .410 batting average

MATTHEW MILES

Outfielder

So., Midway

Carried Panthers at the plate in district with .410 batting average

 
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COBY POTVIN

COBY POTVIN Outfielder Sr., Belton Collected 35 hits, stole 17 bases for unbeaten 12-6A champ

COBY POTVIN

Outfielder

Sr., Belton

Collected 35 hits, stole 17 bases for unbeaten 12-6A champ

 
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riley reich

RILEY REICH Utility Sr., Hamilton District defensive MVP was on base 66.2% of the time

RILEY REICH

Utility

Sr., Hamilton

District defensive MVP was on base 66.2% of the time

 
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JEFF WARD

JEFF WARD Des. hitter Sr., Crawford Leadoff man hit at .425 clip, scored 49 runs, drove in 22

JEFF WARD

Des. hitter

Sr., Crawford

Leadoff man hit at .425 clip, scored 49 runs, drove in 22

 
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Jase embry 15

JASE EMBRY Pitcher Jr., Riesel 16-2A MVP went 11-2 with 0.68 ERA, struck out 169 hitters

JASE EMBRY

Pitcher

Jr., Riesel

16-2A MVP went 11-2 with 0.68 ERA, struck out 169 hitters

 
+18 
TANNER FRICK

TANNER FRICK Pitcher Jr., Belton Lefty finished season with 7-1 mark, 66 total strikeouts

TANNER FRICK

Pitcher

Jr., Belton

Lefty finished season with 7-1 mark, 66 total strikeouts

 
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Mathis

BRET MATHIS Pitcher Sr., Bosqueville 14-2A MVP had 10-2 record, 1.58 ERA, struck out 124 hitters

BRET MATHIS

Pitcher

Sr., Bosqueville

14-2A MVP had 10-2 record, 1.58 ERA, struck out 124 hitters

 
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BAILEY HORN

BAILEY HORN Pitcher Jr., West Recorded sparkling 13-0 record with 1.34 ERA, 120 strikeouts

BAILEY HORN

Pitcher

Jr., West

Recorded sparkling 13-0 record with 1.34 ERA, 120 strikeouts

 
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Moenning

NATE MOENNING Pitcher Sr., Crawford Posted 11-1 record with 69 strikeouts for state finalist

NATE MOENNING

Pitcher

Sr., Crawford

Posted 11-1 record with 69 strikeouts for state finalist

 
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PAT MORROW

PAT MORROW Pitcher Sr., Robinson 17-4A MVP was 8-1 with 1.27 ERA, hit .422 with 26 runs scored

PAT MORROW

Pitcher

Sr., Robinson

17-4A MVP was 8-1 with 1.27 ERA, hit .422 with 26 runs scored

 
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PRESTON MACIK

PRESTON MACIK Outfielder Jr., West Player of Year earned 19-3A, state title game MVP recognition

PRESTON MACIK

Outfielder

Jr., West

Player of Year earned 19-3A, state title game MVP recognition

 
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ELI MENDOZA

ELI MENDOZA Newcomer Fr., Temple Went 9-2 with 1.34 ERA, 86 strikeouts in his first year

ELI MENDOZA

Newcomer

Fr., Temple

Went 9-2 with 1.34 ERA, 86 strikeouts in his first year

 
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CORY BECKHAM

CORY BECKHAM Coach West Led his Trojans to 27-game winning streak, 3A state crown

CORY BECKHAM

Coach

West

Led his Trojans to 27-game winning streak, 3A state crown

 

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