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Marble Falls to face traditional powerhouses in own tourney

MARBLE FALLS — After winning the season opener Monday, the Marble Falls High School baseball team is far from satisfied. And, its coaching staff intends to evaluate the Mustangs (1-0) throughout the predistrict campaign, according to head coach David Norwood.

“You get better by getting hard teams,” Norwood said. “Our schedule in non-district is brutal. It prepares for the Lake Travises, the Huttos and the Pflugerville Hendricksons.”

The Mustangs will get their chance today in their Marble Falls Classic opener against Liberty Hill at 9:30 a.m. Senior Cooper Bowen is penciled in as pitcher.

“Liberty Hill played four rounds deep in the playoffs,” Norwood said. “They graduated pretty heavy. In the scrimmage they battled us pretty hard.”

In the nightcap, Marble Falls will face powerhouse Houston Second Baptist 7:30 p.m. with sophomore pitcher Derek Steffek on the mound.

Marble Falls will face Boerne Champion 7:30 p.m. Friday and Kerrville Tivy 5:30 p.m. Saturday. All games are at Scearce Baseball Field, 2101 Mustang Drive.

Norwood said his pitchers will be senior Justin Garcia and junior Will Shirey.

Before the second high school was built, Boerne High was a state powerhouse. Norwood said there’s no reason to think Champion has lost a step.

“(Head coach Chuck) Foster has been there for years,” Norwood said. “They’re a perennial Class 4A powerhouse. They’ve been in the playoffs every year and normally play deep in the playoffs.”

The Mustangs skipper was equally enthusiastic about Tivy.

“They attacked us pretty good,” he said. “They’ll hit the ball extremely well. It’s going to be a tough tournament for us.”

The Mustangs’ two focuses during the next several weeks will be the pitching staff and the infield.

Marble Falls lost most of its infielders to graduation. Therefore, coaches are busy evaluating each position, Norwood said, noting the rainy weather the last several weeks hasn’t helped either.

“It’s a bad year for us to have inexperienced guys in the infield,” he said. “We’re performing well. We’re going to have to move and shuffle players, depending on who’s on the mound. We need to find out who our everyday infield is.”

Junior Brian Hicks is considered the team’s No. 1 pitcher thanks to throwing a shutout and recording 11 strikeouts in the 12-0 win against Canyon Lake Monday.

“Pitchers have done an outstanding job,” the Mustangs skipper said. “We have lots of arms, but we don’t know how they’re going to fit in. With Brian, we’re making him one of our solid starters. Cooper, Derek and Justin look good on the mound.”

When Hicks is not pitching, he’ll play in the infield. Senior Cameron Venghaus has inexperience playing in the infield and outfield.

Bowen, Garcia and senior Thomas Nichols are set in the outfield, but seniors Dylan Jackson and Brent Franques provide depth.

Because of being on the varsity last year and getting experience as underclassmen, Norwood said coaches are expecting much from them.

“We’re expecting those guys to be everyday players,” he said.

As for the District 25-4A campaign, N

orwood said Lake Travis, Hendrickson and Hutto will be in the mix because of their pitching staffs.

Lake Travis and Hendrickson, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the state in Class 4A respectively, have at least two solid pitchers, while Hutto has one returning from last season.

“Our district is loaded with pitching talent,” he said.

While many of the pitchers will throw in the 90-mph range, Norwood said there’s more to pitching.

If a pitcher can mix up his throws with a fastball and changeup and consistently work the plate, he can throw slower and be effective.

Lampasas and Killeen High will be improved, the coach added.

“I think it might be tougher,” he said. “You have to play every Tuesday and Friday night or you’re going to be in trouble.”

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