The journey of the 2014 baseball season my have just begun, but for the Killeen ISD schools, the destination is very clear. 

Harker Heights and Shoemaker look to build upon last season’s playoff appearances while Killeen and Ellison hope to get into the postseason.

“We’re knocking at the door a little bit and improving each year,” Harker Heights head coach Glenn Cunningham said. “Our kids really feel like they have the chance to be in there competing for a district championship.”

The Knights come off a third-place finish in 2013 and lost to Mansfield in the bi-district playoffs.

Heights went 3-2 at the Waco ISD Tournament over the weekend where Cunningham saw some positive things.

“We hit the ball well,” Cunningham said. “I was really pleased with our offense more than anything else. I really think defensively we’re going to be fine. We’ve got a good, solid core of players on the infield that can really get it done and I think our pitching will hold up.

Heights returns all-district pitcher Caleb Dean and infielder Tyler Torres players from last year, but needs to find a replacement for all-district outfielder Miles Munro.

The Knights got off to a good start in Waco and Cunningham points to the 10-9 loss against Class 4A No. 4 Cleburne as a key game in the tournament.

“We saw some quality people, some good things that really presented a challenge and I thought our kids handled it well,” Cunningham said.

The Grey Wolves finished fourth in the district before losing to District 7-5A champion Midlothian in the bi-district playoffs.

Shoemaker went 4-1 at the Waco ISD Tournament over the weekend, including a 5-2 win over Ellison.

“I saw some good things out of our leaders, especially Raven Sauceda,” Shoemaker head coach Harry Zambrana said. “He came out, led the guys and showed them how to do things. It seems like we’re back where we were when we were in it last year.”

The Grey Wolves entered the season looking for answers at catcher and second base after losing all-district performers Albert Castro and Jaime Funk to graduation.

Shoemaker got big games at the plate from Roberto Delgado and Sauceda during the tournament finale against Ellison. Delgado brought in a run on a fielder’s choice and Sauceda provided a two-run single.

Pitcher and third baseman Jose Casillas has given the Grey Wolves a lift at third this season.

“The void that we filled is John Gueits at third and he’s (Casillas) just as good and he swings the bat as well as John,” Zambrana said.

Killeen head coach Donald Trcka thinks the second year is going to be big for the Roos.

“I tell my team, ‘You’re a good team, you have all the potential in the world, but you’ve got to play,’” Trcka said. “We go in every day and talk about how good they can be, but you’ve got to do the little things right. As long as they can do the little things right, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Despite losing all-district catcher Daniel Vega as well as Marcos Hinojos to graduation, the core of Killeen’s baseball team returns this season.

Westley Brooks takes over behind the plate and the Roos return the nucleus of the team led by all-district outfielder Garrett Gaskamp.

Killeen (1-2-2) saw some good things at the Gatesville Tournament despite winning only one of five games. Two of those games resulted in ties due to time limit rules set forth for the tournament.

Jacob Hinojos pitched a two-hitter against Rogers while Doug Bell allowed just three hits in a 7-3 win over Glen Rose.

Rene Ramirez had a big tournament at the plate, hitting .568.

“We pitched well, we hit the ball well, we scored some runs,” Trcka said. “I was pleased.”

Ellison (2-3) may not have wound up in the playoffs in 2013, but for first-year head coach Ty Oppermann, the standards are still high.

“These kids goal and my goal is just like anybody, to win a district championship and go to the playoffs,” Oppermann said. “Every day that’s what we work for is to be district champs. We’re not going to sell ourselves short of what we can be.”

Oppermann takes over the Eagles baseball team after coaching at Harker Heights for 16 years, including a three-year stint as head coach from 2003 until 2006.

Ellison (2-3) does have to replace all-district pitcher Tyler Bark and outfielder Ethan Schaefnocker from last year’s squad, but Oppermann saw progress at the Waco ISD Tournament.

The Eagles used the tournament as a way to get accustomed to their new coach under game conditions.

“They’re figuring out who we’re going to be,” Oppermann said. “(We) found some good pitching the last couple of days, the kids played some great defense, we’re swinging the bat well. They played really well for a first tournament.”

The Killeen ISD schools return to action on Thursday at the Killeen ISD Tournament which will be played at Harker Heights, Killeen and Shoemaker.



Games at Harker Heights

11 a.m. — Copperas Cove vs. Austin

1:30 p.m. — Lorena vs. Copperas Cove

4 p.m. — Harker Heights vs. Austin

6:30 p.m. —Harker Heights vs. Lorena

Games at Killeen

11 a.m. — Killeen vs. Rockdale

1:30 p.m. — Killeen vs. Little River Academy

4 p.m — Rockdale vs. Academy

Games at Shoemaker

11 a.m. — Shoemaker vs. Waco

1:20 p.m. — Waco University vs. Ellison

4 p.m. — Ellison vs. Waco

6:30 p.m. — Shoemaker vs. Waco University


Games at Harker Heights

11 a.m. — Harker Heights vs. Waco Universit

1:30 p.m. — Copperas Cove vs. Waco University

4 p.m. — Ellison vs. Little River Academy

6:30 p.m. — Harker Heights vs. Waco

Games at Killeen

11 a.m. — Austin vs. Lorena

1:30 p.m. — Killeen vs. Waco

4 p.m. — Killeen vs. Lorena

Games at Shoemaker

11 a.m. — Ellison vs. Rockdale

1:30 p.m. —Shoemaker vs. Rockdale

4 p.m. — Shoemaker vs. Austin


Games at Harker Heights

10 a.m. — Harker Heights vs. Little River Academy

1 p.m. — Ellison vs. Copperas Cove

Games at Killeen

10 a.m. — Killeen vs. Austin

12:30 p.m. — Waco vs. Little River Academy

Games at Shoemaker

10 a.m. — Rockdale vs. Copperas Cove

12:30 p.m. — Shoemaker vs. Lorena

Contact Albert Alvarado at

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