TEXARKANA, Texas After last baseball season was cut short due to COVID-19, Texas High is ready to get back to business as usual on the diamond.
The Tigers had a small class graduate in 2020 and have a plethora of returning talent for this spring.
"I'm excited about this year; of course our (2020) season was cut short, and I feel really bad for the seniors because they were unable to finish their senior year," Texas High baseball coach John McClure said. "The majority of our returning guys, like most others in the area, once things settled down they did play a lot of baseball over the summer."
THS has five scrimmages scheduled before the regular season begins on Feb. 22. The Tigers scrimmage at Evangel Christian Academy today in Shreveport, La., and are home Friday for a scrimmage against Liberty-Eylau.
Texas High has 11 seniors on this year's roster, along with eight juniors and a couple of sophomores.
"The guys came in prepared," McClure said. "We've got six or seven returning starters, and out of that group, probably five have experience even from the year before. It is a good senior class, with both talent and experience."
Jackson Halter, Rian Cellers and Ben DePriest have been starting since they were sophomores, and Cellers also played as a freshman. Luke Smith is a junior who started as a freshman.
Halter is the team's catcher. Smith also can help behind the plate, as well as sophomore Cody Reese.
Eligible pitchers include Cellers, Smith, DePriest, Zane Dodson, Nathan Steele, Caden Miller, Sawyer Pritchard, Robert Cheney, Nate Mennie, Dalton Raley and Colin Shelley.
"We're expecting to compete for the district championship," McClure said. "Usually there's one or two teams and everybody is chasing them, but this year I believe there's five quality baseball teams in our district. It's going to be a battle every Tuesday and every Friday.
"I like our chances, but we're going to have to go out and play and perform at a high level every game."
In the infield, Braden Tucker, Shelley, Raley, Mennie, Cheney, Pritchard, Jordan Crouch, Cellers, Steele, Dodson, Trey Lavender and DePriest will help the Tigers, and the outfield will consist of a combination of Smith, Dodson, Krockett White, Chandler Chapman, Jacob McGuire, Miller and Ean Crite.
"Our team chemistry is a definite strength; once or twice a week these guys go hang out or have a bite to eat together," the coach said. "They're all pulling for each other. It's the type of team that nobody cares who gets the credit, as long as at the end of the day we win as a team. There's a toughness aspect to them.
"The older kids are not just pushing each other but bringing along the younger guys and pushing them to succeed in practices. They've had a lot of energy, and everything's been going well."
2021 TIGER BASEBALL
Feb. 22=North Lamar=6 p.m.
Feb. 25-26=North DeSoto tournament=TBA
March 2=Captain Shreve=5 p.m.
OVERSET FOLLOWS:March 4-6=THS Border Battle=TBA
March 9=x-at Marshall=7 p.m.
March 11-13=Airline tournament=TBA
March 16=x-at Pine Tree=7 p.m.
March 19=x-Sulphur Springs=7 p.m.
March 23=x-at Hallsville=7 p.m.
March 26=x-Longview=7 p.m.
March 30=x-at Mount Pleasant=7 p.m.
April 1=y-Ennis=7 p.m.
April 6=x-Marshall=7 p.m.
April 9=x-Pine Tree=7 p.m.
April 13=x-at Sulphur Springs=7 p.m.
April 16=x-Hallsville=7 p.m.
April 20=x-at Longview=7 p.m.
April 23=x-Mount Pleasant=7 p.m.
April 26=Henderson=7 p.m.
X-District 15-5A game. Y-Neutral site.