For many Texas high school baseball teams, the 2014 season began Tuesday.
But Harker Heights had to wait two days before opening the season at the Waco Independent School District Tournament on Thursday.
Not that the Knights minded.
The delayed start didn’t take away any of the excitement for a team eager for a return trip to the playoffs this season.
“The kids have worked extremely hard,” Knight head coach Glenn Cunningham said. “Their work ethic has been good. And they’re excited, and we’re kind of excited to get going.”
Heights returns just four starters, but as Cunningham noted, they are quality players, including senior shortstop Caleb Dean and sophomore Tyler Torres. Dean is a Hill College signee, and Cunningham said he will be a key contributor in the lineup and on the mound. “We’ll put a lot of weight on his shoulders, and he’s just a quality baseball player,” Cunningham said.
Torres, meanwhile, returns after earning All-District 8-5A honors in his first high school season, and is also expected to carry a big load for the Knights.
“He’s really had a great preseason as far as swinging the bat,” Cunningham said. “And he’s got great hands. He’s a very gifted player.”
Heights may get a helping hand from a freshman again this year as Cunningham said Daniel Cole will play up and is expected to contribute.
Michael Zapata is also back and will move from left to center field where Cunningham said he expects him to control the outfield.
Add it all up, and the Knights are confident they have the pieces to be in the thick of the playoff hunt again.
But this year, the Knights aren’t just eyeing a postseason appearance.
“We want to build on what we did last year and get back in the playoffs,” Cunningham said. “But we think we’ve got the type of guys who can compete for a district championship.”