LAMPASAS — The Badgers went undefeated on the first day of the Lampasas tournament with victories over Jarrell and Shoemaker on Thursday.
“We look at the quality of the at bat,” Lampasas head coach Shane Doege said of his team focusing more on the process then the result, “so I was really proud of them, because it kind of blew up in that first game.”
The tournament is broken into two sections. There is Pool A with Jarrell, Shoemaker and Lampasas and Pool B with Marble Falls, Brownwood and Killeen.
Pool A played first with Lampasas taking on Jarrell in the first game of the day. The Badgers went on to beat the Cougars 20-6.
Shoemaker then went against Jarrell and took a 14-3 victory in the early afternoon.
With a smaller tournament size, the overall plan and approach to games differs from how teams prepare for larger tournaments.
“You have to take it one game at a time, and you try to win that game,” Shoemaker head coach Robert Conley said. “You make the
moves you think is best for the team, and then you play the next game after that, and you don’t worry about the next game after that.
“You just try to win the one that’s there, and you just put yourself in the best position that you can, and then you have to adjust from there.”
As for Lampasas, Doege prepares his pitching rotation for possible opponents and has his players get in the playoff mind set.
“A lot of times you have a three-game playoff series, and last year was our guys first experience in a long time in the playoffs,” he said. “So, we take it as that you don’t know what time you’re going to play on Saturday sometimes, and you don’t know if that game’s going to happen.
“The way this tournament is set up,” Doege adds, “you have to win to get to that second one. So we take a playoff mentality to that in the early season before we get into the district run.”
Ace Whitehead started at pitcher for the Badgers and walked Grey Wolves’ Kevin Mial. Shoemaker got within scoring position when Mial stole second but ended the inning tagged out trying to steal third.
Second baseman Hunter Gholson started the bottom of the first with a fly ball to deep centerfield that dropped for a double.
Gholson advanced to third on a sacrifice hit from Whitehead, but it was a fly ball deep into right field for a double from Braden Terry that brought in the run to put the Badgers up 1-0.
The Grey Wolves quickly ended the inning but couldn’t get their bats to wake up to put a run on the board in the second inning.
Shortstop Gage Berry got the second inning going for Lampasas with a single to deep right field before catcher Hunter Rebando hit one high to Mial, who caught the ball and dropped it before throwing to second baseman Dontoneo Williams for the attempted tag out.
Confusion over the play ensued as the umpire explained to Conley the call and allowed Berry to advance to second and Rebando safe at first.
The Badgers had two on with no outs, and Ethan Oakes was substituted in to run for Rebando.
Shortstop Haydn Hammerschmidt hit a double that brought in Berry, and Lampasas 2-0 lead.
The Badgers had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning when Whitehead came up to bat again.
Shoemaker Burt Cruz had Whitehead chasing the ball twice, and on the third pitch, the Lampasas freshman connected with the ball.
It soared straight toward first baseman Alex Roche’s glove but grazed the tip and into right field, allowing Oakes and Hammerschmidt to score.
At the end of the second inning, the Badgers held a 4-0 lead over the Grey Wolves.
Shoemaker came up to bat at the top of the third and Whitehead walked Cruz after striking out Williams.
Mial hit a sacrifice bunt that got Cruz safely to second before he stole third after Whitehead was called for balking.
Ben Hamilton came in to run for Cruz as Kyle Figueroa came up to the plate. After fouling off two balls, Figueroa hit a grounder into left field for an RBI double, and Shoemaker trailed 4-1.
Carlos Rivera then substituted in to run for Figueroa as Jesus Encarnacion came up to bat.
A wild pitch to Encarnacion allowed Rivera to steal third before Whitehead put runners on the corners with a walk.
Maker Nena grounded one to Berry, who threw it to Austin Hilgenberg at first. He dropped the ball and missed the tag. Rivera ran in to cut Lampasas’ lead in half, 4-2.
Roche then got a base hit into left field, scoring two runs to tie the score 4-4.
Whitehead walked outfielder Kevin Asher, putting two runners on as James Bowyer chopped one toward Berry. Roche ran in another run to give the Grey Wolves a 5-4 lead, and Asher slid safely into third.
Asher took too far of a lead off the bag as he was tagged out at third to end the inning.
“We have to understand that it was only a couple plays that kept us from winning this game,” Conley said. “We made a couple mistakes in the field, and we don’t do some things at the plate.
“That’s the only thing that hurt us.”
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Badgers loaded the bases with two outs before Shoemaker had a meeting at the mound.
Hilgenberg got a base hit for an RBI to tie the game 5-5.
Cruz then walked in a run, and the Badgers led once more. Whitehead hit a pop fly that went straight to Bowyer’s glove to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded.
The Grey Wolves couldn’t catch up as Lampasas went on to win 6-5 in the 6th inning.
Pool A has a bye day today as Pool B plays to determine the bracket for Saturday, and both coaches have different approaches on how they plan to use that break.
“There’s a few things that we can clean up, a few minimal mistakes that we’ll go over after school on Friday, and then we’ll get a practice in,” Conley said of his team’s plan. “At least swing at some.
“The guys love being at the field, and I’m not going to tell them they can’t be up there, so we’re going to get out there do a few things and make sure we’re ready to go on Saturday.”
Doege prefers to take the “caged lion” approach.
“We want them hungry and that’s something I work for in our practice and games,” he said. “We want to keep them hungry for that next game.
“[Friday] will be a little bit shorter for us because Saturday could be a two-game day, and so I want them fresh.”
Jarrell will face the No. 3 seed from Pool B at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.
Lampasas will face the No. 2 seed from Pool B at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and the winner of that game will advance to the championship game at 4:30 p.m.
Shoemaker then goes head-to-head with the No. 1 seed from Pool B at 2 p.m. to determine who will play in the championship game.
Killeen will start Pool B play against Marble Falls at 9 a.m. before turning around and playing Brownwood at 11:30 a.m.