It was similar, but different at the same time.
Harker Heights baseball star Daniel Cole competed in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association (THSBCA) All-Star Game on June 17 at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, and while it was similar to the Centex All-Star Game he participated in on June 12 in West, there were stark contrasts.
Cole started the game on the mound on June 12 and pitched the first two innings, and he hit third in the batting order. This time, however, he had to wait till the seventh inning to get on the hill and batted second to last in a 20-player batting order.
“They had all the pitchers hitting last, so I only got one at-bat,” Cole said. “The biggest difference was just how the game went. At the Centex game, I jumped right into the game right away, but this all-star game made it kind of tough to stay warm and stay ready and stay involved in the game.
“But it was an adjustment that I had to make, and I didn’t make any complaints.”
Cole pitched a perfect seventh, inducing three consecutive popups. He also drew a walk in his only plate appearance and stole second, but was thrown out at home on a single to center field.
“I didn’t slide or anything because I was out by a lot,” Cole joked. “It was a ball hit to center and was pretty shallow, so our third-base coach sent me. But I didn’t slide because it wasn’t close and it was an all-star game, so I wasn’t trying to get hurt or anything.”
Another difference was the talent level. The Centex All-Star Game consisted of players from a certain area, while the THSBCA contest consisted of the top players in the entire state.
“I actually knew quite a people there, because I’ve played with quite a few of them over the past couple years,” Cole said. “On my team, there were quite a few guys I played with and against, so I knew going in that the competition was going to be extremely good.”
And while it was an all-star game and the results lacked major importance, Cole wanted to win. Despite falling on the North squad, 9-1, to the South, Cole’s competitive drive was present in the contest.
“There’s a part of me that’s competitive, and I want to go out and be the best I can be,” Cole said. “I wanted to prove to everybody why I’m there. Of course, coming out of Harker Heights, not many people at Harker Heights have come out and done well at baseball — I mean, there’s been a few — but it hasn’t really been known as a big city for baseball.
“Telling people I was from Harker Heights, and representing Harker Heights and Killeen, that what was motivated me to do well.”
While the Knights’ program hasn’t been on the map long, Cole’s contributions have helped get them there, and head coach Randy Culp has been appreciative of them.
“The last four years, he’s set numerous records, and we’ve done things we’ve never done before,” Culp said. “It’s fitting that he’s the first kid from Harker Heights to ever get into that all-star game to cap off his career. I think our name in the state is growing, as far as the baseball program goes.
“A lot of that has to do with his hard work and dedication, along with a lot of other guys, but he’s definitely been a big part of that.”