By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Max Hogan is further proof that the Belton baseball team just reloads year-in and year-out.
A year after losing 15 seniors, Hogan and host of other soon-to-be household names led the Tigers to the second round of the 5A baseball playoffs.
"The whole fall and leading up to the season, there were so many questions being asked about, 'Are ya'll going to be very good losing all those players ya'll lost year?'," Hogan said. "We didn't listen to that because we knew (at) Belton High School, you're expected to have a good season every year. We just went out there and did the best we can and had a good season."
Hogan went from being a spot-starting sophomore, splitting time between the varsity and JV, in 2010 to a third-team all-state second baseman. The junior was recognized on the 5A Collin Street Bakery/Texas Sports Writers
Association list released Saturday, and he didn't expect it.
Hogan just wanted to play his best, live up to the expectations of Belton baseball.
"I didn't expect to have (an all-state season)," Hogan said. "I just knew I had to go out there and have a good season. I wasn't expecting it, but I was shooting for it so I could be (of) the most help to the team."
Hogan hit .467 and drew an area-leading 32 walks for a .622 OBP. He also hit six home runs and drove in 22 runs in becoming a District 12-5A all-district and Daily Herald first-team selection.
"He was a guy that we knew was going to be a great player for us," Belton coach Eddie Cornblum said. "We talk about work ethic and (being) a guy that you can rely on that comes through at the right times, a guy you want to have at the plate in certain situations and that was the guy that he always wanted to be. And, he's going to get better."
The Tigers went 24-13 and two rounds deep in the playoffs a year after losing a trio of Division I standouts - Dillon Newman (Baylor), John Beck (University of Texas-Arlington) and Shane Hoelscher (Rice) - and 11 other entrenched seniors led Belton to the regional semifinals and its best record since 1994.
"I know, when I was up on varsity (as a sophomore in 2010) having those seniors up there, you learn a lot just watching them play," Hogan said. "Then, I would get the opportunity to play some games next to Shane and playing next to somebody like that, who's going to Rice and I was young, you learn a lot from those guys."
Hogan was one of four Belton juniors to make the 12-5A all-district first and second teams. Fellow juniors Blayten Magana (pitcher) and Ryan King (first base) made the first team and Shane Ward (pitcher) made the second team.
"We just wanted to be sure that these guys like (Hogan) and Blayten and Ryan King and (junior) Jarrett Pickens and those kids that were coming up as sophomores were playing as much as they can," Cornblum said. "No, we're not surprised about what he can do or any of the other guys, we knew exactly what we had ... when those seniors left, we had guys with that ability to come right in and fill in and take over for where those guys left off."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.