MARBLE FALLS — Questions abound regarding the 2012 Mustangs baseball team, according to Marble Falls High School head coach David Norwood.
The biggest reason is because he was waiting for the end of basketball season to see how many players traded in their high tops for cleats. The answer is four — senior Clynt Powell and brothers Jay Watson, a junior, and J.T. Watson, a sophomore, and junior Joey Blackledge, who provided depth at outfield and catcher.
Coaches elected to play underclassmen during District 25-4A play last year, and Norwood believes Marble Falls will see the benefit of that decision this season.
“We realized we were going to be extremely young,” he said. “We felt like we needed to move some kids around just to get them playing time. This year I’m hoping it’ll pay off.”
A reason doesn’t exist to believe the District 25-4A race won’t come down to powerhouses Cedar Park Vista Ridge, the defending champion and ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, and Lake Travis, which had a talented group of freshman last year, Norwood said. Leander Rouse and Leander Vandegrift, which haven’t had a graduating class, should be better, while Dripping Springs was hit hard by graduation. Norwood said the Tigers, at least on paper, might suffer some growing pains.
“You have to play at a high level,” he said. “We have a chance to go in there and compete for the district championship.”
TOP PLAYERS: Pitchers Cole Ridgley, Stacy Heinatz, Cody Goodman and Derek Steffek. The Mustangs’ success will depend on how well they pitch, especially in a district loaded with power hitters who can come through with runners in scoring position. Norwood said pitchers have given away too many free bases so far, but he expects more arms to be available as players return from injuries.
ON OFFENSE: Powerhitters Dominic Patterson, Steffek, Saul Guzman
ON DEFENSE: Fabian Suarez, Guzman, Ridgley, Heinatz, Steffek will play infield with the Watsons playing either catcher or in the outfield. Other players include Cole Wilson and David Spurlock, though Norwood said the Mustangs aren’t close to deciding on a starting lineup.
THEY’LL MISS: Third baseman Zed Woerner, a two-year letterman who had shoulder surgery because of an injury he suffered during the football season. He isn’t playing so he can heal and focus on football.
KEY STAT: Winning one-run games. Marble Falls lost 13 games by one run a season ago. “We talk about those things every day to try to find a way to get over the edge and get a ‘W,'” Norwood said.
UP NEXT: Marble Falls vs. Canyon Lake 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Scearce Field, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls