Seven Shoemaker seniors, including one transplanted from rival Ellison, decided they were going to be the group that led the Grey Wolves to the baseball playoffs for the first time in school history.
Lofty ambitions for a program that had never won more than three district games in a single season.
“I think the kids just wanted to win. I think that was the turnaround,” Shoemaker coach Harry Zambrana said.
“That was something they talked about all the time: ‘We’re going to be the first team to make it to the playoffs.’ We had our ups and downs, but no matter what, they showed up to practice every day with good attitudes and they worked hard together,” he added.
The bridge between the goal and the reality was the surprising emergence of junior pitcher Roberto Delgado and the varsity addition of senior catcher Albert Castro.
Delgado and Castro, who transferred from Ellison midway through his junior year, were among seven players, not all seniors, who made the All-District 8-5A list released Monday.
“Last year we had to send him (Delgado) down to JV … because he had control issues and, mentally, he just wasn’t prepared for the varsity level,” Zambrana said. “Going into the season, I thought it was going to be (senior John) Guiets and (sophomore Raven) Sauceda, but Delgado, you couldn’t deny him.”
Junior Jared Janczak, of District 8-5A champion Belton, was the MVP and Tigers sophomore Chase Sorter was the Newcomer of the year.
Janzcak was the District 12-5A co-Newcomer of the Year as a freshman with Ellison’s Tyler Bark, an 8-5A first-team pitcher this year, and a second-team selection last year.
“He’s developed into a good high school baseball player,” Belton coach Eddie Cornblum said. “He’s been successful, now, and his numbers have improved every single year and that has a lot to do with his work ethic and desire. … We’re excited about where he’s at.”
In addition to Janzcak and Sorter, the Tigers had three others make the first team, including seniors Justin Golden (pitcher) and Cameron Cooper (outfield) and junior Chase Cryer (second base).
Harker Heights junior pitcher Caleb Dean was a first-team selection as were senior Robby Sluss (first base) and freshman Tyler Torres (third base).
Bark was Ellison’s only first-team selection. Senior outfielder Ethan Schaefnocker was a second-team pick.
Killeen had three second-team selections (seniors Daniel Vega and John Rechtorovic and junior Garrett Gaskamp) and Copperas Cove freshman Tim Bechtold also made the second team.
Shoemaker sophomore Sauceda and senior Jamie Funk were on the second team along with Harker Heights seniors Kyle Randall and Miles Munro, and Belton had four on the second team, including sophomore Shane Stafford, juniors Mark Herrington and Walker Winders and senior Ryan Niemi.
Temple junior utility player Ricky Ortiz made the first team and senior shortstop Mason Hesse made the second team.
8-5A ALL-DISTRICT LIST
MVP — Jared Janzcak, Belton, Jr.
Newcomer of the year — Chase Sorter, Belton, So.
Pitchers – Roberto Delgado, Shoemaker, Jr.; Jaden Redfield, Waco Midway, Jr.; Justin Golden, Belton, Sr.; Caleb Dean, Harker Heights, Jr.; Tyler Bark, Ellison, Sr.
Catcher – Albert Castro, Shoemaker, Sr.
First base – Robby Sluss, Harker Heights, Sr.
Second base – Chase Cryer, Belton, Jr.
Third base – Tyler Torres, Harker Heights, Fr.
Shortstop – Kramer Robertson, Waco Midway, Sr.
Utility – Ricky Ortiz, Temple, Jr.
Designated hitter – Harrison Miner, Waco Midway, Sr.
Outfielders – Ross Coskrey, Waco Midway, Sr.; Cameron Cooper, Belton, Sr.; Hunter Jarmon, Waco Midway, Sr.
Pitchers – Raven Sauceda, Shoemaker, So.; Nathan Kent, Waco Midway, Sr.; Kyle Randall, Harker Heights, Sr.; Shane Stafford, Belton, So.
Catcher – Daniel Vega, Killeen, Sr.
First base – John Rechtorovic, Killeen, Sr.
Second base – Jamie Funk, Shoemaker, Sr.
Third base – Mark Herrington, Belton, Jr.
Shortstop – Mason Hesse, Temple, Sr.; Walker Winders, Belton, Jr.
Outfielders – Miles Munro, Harker Heights, Sr.; Garrett Gaskamp, Killeen, Jr.; Ethan Schaefnocker, Ellison, Sr.; Tim Bechtold, Copperas Cove, Fr.; Ryan Niemi, Belton, Sr.
Belton – Joe Pare, Juan Lagunas, Joey Hogan; Copperas Cove – Brandon Smith; Ellison – Sam Weston, Angelo Rodriguez, Caleb Moses, Chris Ackles; Harker Heights – Michael Zapata, Cody Plagens, Tyler Keller; Killeen – Chris Barber, Doug Bell, Rene Ramirez; Shoemaker – John Gueits, Ramiro Gonzalez, Elijah Hilliard; Temple – Chase Stone, Chris Guillen, Cort Miller.