Mustangs see tough road ahead
By L. SCOTT HAINLINE
Half of last season's TAPPS Class 5A baseball final four came from District 3-5A, and that fact is not lost on Houston Christian's 11th-year coach Ron Mathis.
We have a pretty competitive district," said Mathis, whose defending district champion and 2009 state semifinalist Mustangs share the 3-5A neighborhood with St. Thomas, Beaumont Kelly and defending state champion St. Pius X.
We're very optimistic about our chances in district, but we always anticipate St. Pius and St. Thomas to be very competitive. We expect them to be very good because they both have histories of fielding solid teams."
After capturing last year's district crown, Houston Christian advanced to the state semis and fell 6-0 to St. Pius, which went on to beat Dallas Bishop Lynch 4-2 for the title.
The Mustangs closed the season at 24-10, including an 8-1 first-place finish in 3-5A, and returning from that squad are senior all-state selections Dustin Selzer (pitcher-first base-third base) and Cody Mathis (middle infield-pitcher), and senior all-district pick C.J. Jarvis (shortstop).
Selzer plans to play collegiately at Dartmouth, Jarvis is committed to Oklahoma, and Mathis (coach Mathis' son) is exploring his options.
Houston Christian's longtime mentor lists junior right-hander Andrew Cecil (5-1 in 2009) as the top returning pitcher, and seniors Jacob Bravo (outfield-third base-pitcher) and Pat Kilkenny (outfield-first base) bring more varsity experience to the field.
Despite the weather, the Mustangs have somehow been able to get in every scrimmage, and they open the season at home with Westbury Christian at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
We used the scrimmages for what they're supposed to be used for," Mathis said. We moved people around to see where they can perform, and looked at different combinations. You have to know who can play where because you never know what's going to happen at any point of the season."
Houston Christian is at this week's Kingwood-Atascocita Tournament starting with two games on Thursday at Kingwood with Westbury at 5 p.m. and Kingwood at 7:30 p.m.
There are two games on Friday at Atascocita with Westbrook at noon and Clear Creek at 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, the Mustangs are at Atascocita at 2:30 p.m.
We try to have a competitive schedule and play good teams," Mathis said.
We beat both (UIL) Class 5A state finalists (El Paso Socorro 6-5 and Lufkin 1-0) last season, and we'll face some outstanding teams again this year."
Houston Christian will also compete in the March 4-6 Flower Mound tourney, the March 11-13 Cameron Classic in Lake Charles, La., and the March 15-20 O'Connor Tournament in Phoenix, Az.
With that kind of seasoning, by the time the Mustangs' season runs out, Mathis expects a strong squad once again.
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