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June 1, 2008

Can Plano West, SLC break NTx baseball drought?

North Texas takes great pride in its baseball prowess. But North Texas has no Class 5A facts to back up its strut.
Why does North Texas struggle to win Class 5A state baseball titles? Houston has completely dominated for the last 20 years.

In 1993, Arlington Martin was the last North Texas team to win a Class 5A state title. It was Duncanville's dramatic Todd Ritchie home run to beat Andy Pettitte's Deer Park in 1990 that a Dallas or Collin County team last won a state title.

5A Semifinals Friday
at Dell Diamond
4 Plano West (38-2) vs. Laredo United (32-7)
7 Bellaire (39-8) vs. SL Carroll (22-18)

Is it that North Texas fools itself with pumped-up summer league baseball teams that go to East Texas, West Texas, Oklahoma and beyond to beef up rosters? That's what a lot of Houston-ites think.

Or is it the Astros Factor? The Astros are to Houston culture like the Cowboys are to Dallas. Top Houston athletes mainline baseball and a majority of Dallas athletes eventually go football.

To people in Houston, the Rangers thinking Nolan Ryan is theirs is like the Arizona Cardinals thinking Emmitt Smith was their star.

Can a very hot Southlake Carroll continue its streak toward a 5A state title? Carroll's 22-18 record is deceiving with 11 forfeits. The Dragons have some very good players. Gotta love Ethan Cunningham and Tanner Toal and the grit of Ross Stripling.

Plano West is awesome and super soph Ryan Ford has a Ben Grieve-like sweet swing that gets hotter as the days do. West pitching can be stifling. But was getting past Georgetown this year going to be the Wolves' biggest accomplishment?

Southlake Carroll and West have very good teams. But don't get intimidated when those Houston kids stroll off their chartered buses with the gloves, bats and sunglasses in their baseball bags worth more than my 10-year-old 4-Runner.

It's been no fluke Houston has dominated. The back-to-back Elkins teams of 2002 and 2003 were awesome. The Woodlands of 2006 was dominating. Most years, Bellaire could pass the eyeball test for a college team. Three North Texas state qualifiers (Duncanville twice, Flower Mound) have been run-ruled in Round Rock in the last decade.

Rockwall was rocked, 10-5, by Kingwood in the '05 state final.

Yes, North Texas fares well in Class 4A. But North Texas school districts often gear top programs (Highland Park) to stay at that level. North Texas school districts fare much better across the board in all 4A sports because of this.

In baseball, can West or Southlake Carroll venture into the shark-infested 5A, deep, blue Gulf jet stream and not get eaten alive?

Class 5A State Baseball Champs
2007 Cy Fair
2006 The Woodlands
2005 Kingwood
2004 CC Moody
2003 Elkins
2002 Elkins
2001 Midland
2000 The Woodlands
1999 Bellaire
1998 Klein
1997 Round Rock
1996 Lubbock Monterey
1995 Elkins
1994 Bellaire
1993 Arlington Martin
1992 Brazoswood
1991 Clear Creek
1990 Duncanville

Here are the 2008 pairings from the UIL:

Wednesday, June 4
UFCU Disch-Falk Field, University of Texas at Austin
Noon: Castroville Medina Valley (36-2) vs. Texarkana Pleasant Grove
3 p.m.: Snyder (33-6) vs. Hutto (27-7)

Dell Diamond, Round Rock
10 a.m.: San Angelo Grape Creek (30-6) vs. Salado (30-6)
1 p.m.: Corsicana Mildred (30-6) vs. Buna (22-6)
4 p.m.: Corpus Christi Calallen (40-1) vs. Friendswood (27-9)
7 p.m.: Waxahachie (31-8) vs. North Richland Hills Birdville (32-10)

Thursday, June 5
UFCU Disch-Falk Field, University of Texas at Austin
3A FINAL: Noon*
*11 a.m. if UT hosts an NCAA Super Regional

Dell Diamond, Round Rock
2A FINAL: 2 p.m.
4A FINAL: 6 p.m.

Friday, June 6
Dell Diamond, Round Rock
10 a.m.: Flatonia (24-5-1) vs. Seymour (17-12)
1 p.m.: Pineland West Sabine (26-7) vs. Bosqueville (19-6-1)
4 p.m.: Plano West (38-2) vs. Laredo United (32-7)
7 p.m.: Houston Bellaire (39-8) vs. Southlake Carroll (22-18)

Saturday, June 7
Dell Diamond, Round Rock
5A FINAL: Noon
1A FINAL: 4 p.m.


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