There is no history for Shoemaker baseball. None worth remembering anyway.
Shoemaker was 26-156 in seven years under Randy Culp. The Grey Wolves had just three district wins in that time.
The year before Culp took over the head coaching duties, the Grey Wolves were 3-17. In 2010 —it’s last under Culp — Shoemaker was 7-23 overall and 1-13 in District 12-5A. Last season, in Harry Zambrana’s first season as coach, the Grey Wolves went 4-22-1 and again 1-13 in district.
Now, though, dare I say it? Shoemaker is a darn good baseball team. They are 15-9 overall and 7-4 in district play. They set the team record for wins — not that it was high before (7).
Then they blew past the school’s record for district wins. They have two legit pitchers in Roberto Delgado (1.40 ERA) and John Gueits, a solid reliever with Raven Sauceda (1.87 ERA) and a lineup that features five players hitting over .300.
“At the beginning of the year, we talked about setting goals,” Zambrana said. “Our first goal was to have the most wins in Shoemaker history before district started and we achieved that and now we are trying to make the playoffs if possible.”
Oh, it is possible.
All the Grey Wolves need to do to secure a playoff spot is beat Ellison in the season finale. Or win one more game — any of its last three — or have Ellison lose any of its last three games.
Playoffs? Yes. Playoffs. Believe it or not it’s happening. And this Shoemaker team is good, maybe not great. But, good and have earned it.
There are still some bad losses. A 13-3 loss to Burnet sticks out. But, those are far and few between, unlike in previous years when you could guess how many runs Shoemaker gave up by picking a number between 10 and 20.
The Grey Wolves, don’t get run-ruled anymore.
And for once there is also a string of wins. Shoemaker extended its winning streak to five games — all district wins — with a 3-2 defeat of Harker Heights on Friday.
No, it still is not a thing of beauty. The Grey Wolves don’t have the depth of a 5A program. Heck, they don’t have the depth of a 2A program. Florence currently has 13 players on its roster.
“It is kind of weird being a 5A program and only having 11 guys on the lineup card,” Zambrana said. “I don’t know how we do it. ... The kids are fighting through. You can’t pinch hit and you can’t pinch run. There are a lot of things we can’t do strategy-wise. But, we have been blessed with this team and we are winning and I can’t complain.”
While, he might not complain, I am pretty sure Zambrana would like to see a lot fewer close wins — if not for the sake of competition then to make sure he doesn’t have a heart attack before he is in his 30s.
The biggest margin of victory during the current win streak is a 3-0 victory over Ellison. But, the Grey Wolves also have a 9-7 win over Copperas Cove, a 10-8 win over Killeen and a 2-1 win over Temple.
“Right now we will take a win any way we can get it, whether it is by one run or 10,” Zambrana said. “For us, we just need a win. I don’t know why we play the games the way we do ... but these kids are real resilient and they have shown that if they are in a one-run ball game they have the confidence to win, unlike in years past.”
No one is going to mistake the Grey Wolves for district leaders Waco Midway or Belton. But, they did do something no one else in District 8-5A has done — beat Midway. How did they do it? By one run, of course — 5-4.
It might not be pretty, but the Grey Wolves are finally doing something worth remembering.
Contact Nick Talbot at email@example.com or (254) 501-7569