Central Texas baseball and softball teams have worn a path to Madisonville so far this playoff season, and the trend continues this week.

On Thursday, the Robinson softball and baseball teams as well as their Lorena counterparts will try to survive and advance once again on Madisonville ISD’s home turf.

The Robinson baseball team opens its third-round playoff series versus Lufkin Hudson at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Madisonville baseball diamond. Robinson softball will follow with the first pitch of its regional semifinals series versus Splendora at 4 p.m. on the adjacent softball field. When those games are finished, Lorena baseball will play Carthage and the Lady Leopards softball team will play Game 2 of its series against Huffman Hargrave.

Lorena softball, which has played four games in the first three rounds of the playoffs at Madisonville, opened its best-of-three matchup versus Huffman Hargrave on Wednesday night at its home away from home.

Lady Leopards coach Steve Dolezel said he and Lorena athletic director Ray Biles are familiar with Madisonville athletic director Rusty Nail, who was Mart’s head football coach from 2006 to 2014, as well as Madisonville football coach Russell Urbantke, a former Lorena assistant.

But the main reasons for the continual trips to Madisonville are location and the fact that school district converted its fields to turf. The first few rounds of the playoffs pit Central Texas against East Texas and the Mustangs’ parks just happen to be right in the middle.

The Robinson softball team has played several series in Madisonville in recent seasons, including a game in the area round already in this campaign. Rockets coach Bobby Cervenka said it’s a choice that serves a couple of key factors.

“It’s really location and the fact that they have turf,” Cervenka said. “With all the rain we’ve had, the turf gives you a chance to play.”

The winners of the Lorena-Huffman Hargrave and Robinson-Splendora series will face each other in the Class 4A Region III final next week. That means the Madisonville softball diamond will serve one additional purpose: the chance to scout the next opponent.

But Cervenka demurred when asked about that possibility.

“We can’t think about all of that,” Cervenka said. “They’re the best team in the state, have been all year.”

Reicher softball advances to state final

The Reicher Lady Cougars scored two runs in the top of the first inning and held the lead throughout as they defeated Lubbock Christian, 4-1, in a TAPPS Division III state semifinal on Wednesday afternoon at the Crosby High School softball diamond.

Reicher’s Hannah Boettcher hit a two-run home run in the first inning and the Lady Cougars (16-6) added single runs in the fourth and fifth frames.

Reicher pitcher Maddy Gonzales went the distance in the circle, striking out seven and holding the Eagles to a run in the bottom of the fourth for the win.

The Lady Cougars advance to the TAPPS Division III state championship game at 1 p.m. on Thursday and will play The Woodlands Christian (15-3), a 5-0 winner over Pasadena First Baptist on Wednesday.

China Spring’s Thomas signs

China Spring senior Dream Thomas will follow her basketball-playing dream when she signs her letter of intent on Thursday.

Thomas, a 5-foot-7 forward, will sign with Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. Thomas was an all-district player for the Lady Cougars this past season. The signing is set for 12:30 p.m. in the China Spring gym.

Vanguard holds signing party

Vanguard recently held a signing ceremony for four of its athletes who signed this year.

Carter Klepper, a multi-sport athlete for the Vikings, will focus on track and field in college, as he signed to compete at Southwestern University in Georgetown.

Elijah Wade will also compete in track and field in college, inking his letter of intent with Trinity University in San Antonio. Bailey Lou Connell will head to Samford University on a cheerleading scholarship.

Also on hand for the ceremony was Super Centex volleyball star Kendee Hilliard, who signed last fall with Division I Illinois State.

Parkview receiver to realize college dreams

It’s not always common for a six-man player to get a chance to play college football, but Braeden Arp is happy to break through that glass ceiling.

Arp, a senior at Parkview Christian, recently agreed to sign with Division I Abilene Christian as a preferred walk-on. He was the Super Centex Six-Man Player of the Year after the 2018 season for the Pacers, and led the nation’s six-man players in receiving for a second straight year. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound receiver made 96 catches in 12 games for 1,901 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Lorena’s Ash headed to Concordia

Lorena’s Bryan Ash will further his basketball playing days at Concordia University, as the senior signed there on Wednesday.

Ash, a Super Centex first-team forward this past season, averaged 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Leopards. The smooth 6-foot-6 player finished his career as Lorena’s all-time leader in both scoring (1,221) and rebounding (617).

Concordia is a Division III school located in Austin. The Tornadoes were 13-14 in 2018-19 and 10-6 in American Southwest Conference play.

Super Centex softball, baseball nominations

Central Texas softball and baseball coaches whose seasons are complete may submit nominations for the annual Super Centex Softball and Baseball Teams to chad.conine@wacotrib.com.

Nominations should include a player’s position, classification, statistics, and any pertinent honors or awards they have won. The Trib will also select a Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Coach of the Year, so suggestions to that end are encouraged as well.

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