HARKER HEIGHTS — The Harker Heights baseball team expected to contend this season.
But the way the Knights excelled has been a surprise.
For example, Heights (6-3-1) knew it returned significant firepower at the top of its lineup. But the Knights have been extraordinary at the plate, even exceeding the expectations of head coach Glenn Cunningham.
“Tyler Torres and Michael Zapata and Caleb Dean have really had good starts — really outstanding starts,” Cunningham said.
But Heights also received a helping hand from a pair of players who weren’t on the team last year.
One was playing for Ellison; the other was in eighth grade.
Cunningham mentioned Ellison-transfer Stephen Shaw as a potential contributor when the season started.
Ten games into the season, Shaw is proving to be one of the Knights’ key cogs.
“He’s a good player and really makes our team a lot better,” Cunningham said. “Stephen has done a great job for us coming in.”
Cunningham also had high expectations for freshman Daniel Cole entering the season and the first-year phenom already exceeded those expectations.
“He’s been exceptional,” Cunningham said. “He’s got a great deal of baseball savvy. He has great poise on
the mound, he’s got great command of pitches, he throws three quality pitches.
“So, we’ve been real surprised with him and really pleased that he’s come in and played as well as he has for a youngster.”
The one area Cunningham said he’d like to see shored up is the Knights’ defense. Heights has had a number of costly lapses early in the season.
But being that it’s still early, and with all the unexpected help they’ve already received, the Knights are excited for the future.
“I feel like we’re doing really good,” Dean said. “The games that we lost we shouldn’t have lost. We didn’t play as good as we should have, we just kind of fell apart. But we learned from those losses really well.
“And this last tournament, we really came out and busted it open, especially the last few games.”