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BASEBALL: District opener has Marble Falls, Hutto looking at being in driver’s seat

MARBLE FALLS — The end of Spring Break means the beginning of District 25-4A baseball.

At Marble Falls High School, two playoff contenders from last year will square off today when the Mustangs (6-9) host Hutto (9-4) 7 p.m. at Scearce Baseball Field, 2101 Mustang Drive.

“Hutto is very solid,” head coach David Norwood said. “They’re not flashy. They don’t have superstars. They’re a well-rounded team.”

The Hippos’ best players are catcher Shaun Simmons and Austin Drolettle, both seniors, because of their prowess on defense and timely hits.

“Those two kids are talented,” Norwood said.

Last season the two teams split the series with the home team winning once.

Both reached the playoffs.

Only two Hutto players graduated from last year’s squad.

Senior pitcher Cooper Bowen (2-1) will take the mound for the Mustangs.

But Norwood said coaches are planning to use three different pitchers.

“It’s all matchups,” he said. “It depends on the opponent we’re playing. We feel Cooper matches up well against Hutto. We feel like Cooper’s style and the way he pitches best matches up with Hutto.”

Junior pitcher Brian Hicks (2-2) and sophomore Derek Steffek (1-2) round out the starting pitchers.

Freshman Cole Ridgley (1-0) has been moved up to the varsity and has come in as a starter and a middle reliever.

Senior Justin Garcia (0-1) was been training to be the closer.

“Cole can do things out of the bullpen,” Norwood said

Norwood scheduled three games during Spring Break to give his players repetitions and mix up the lineups.

But of 27 projected innings, Marble Falls only played five.

That was a 10-0 loss to Burnet Thursday.

In addition, the Mustangs were scheduled to play Cedar Park Vista Ridge Wednesday and Llano Saturday. However, those games were cancelled.

“That’s the situation we’re in,” Norwood said. “We would have liked to play two games last week.”

The loss of the two games means fewer chances for the Mustangs to develop team chemistry.

Usually, when one of the three parts of the sport are working well, Marble Falls has struggled with the other two.

“We have to develop some consistency in all areas,” Norwood said.

But he has seen his team show flashes of that consistency in lopsided wins and narrow defeats, he added.

Coaches knew before the start of the season the Mustangs were going to play an infield that lacked varsity experience.

The coach said there is still competition for the starting spots.

“We have some other guys who can sub in,” he said. “Basically, it’s who’s getting the job done.”

A win against Hutto would give the Mustangs a win in district and some momentum.

“Our first district game is always big,” Norwood said. “If we beat Hutto, it does a lot.”