Baseball: Kingwood excited to return to Andy Wells Field after Harvey
As Tre Richardson put his cleats in the dirt at Andy Wells Field for the first day of baseball practice it brought back memories from his freshman season.
The shortstop said it felt good to be on the field that has become a tradition in Kingwood after Harvey ripped the experience away last year. The Mustangs started after school practice on Jan. 25 at Andy Wells Field to begin the 2019 season.
“It brought me back to my freshman year and my first time stepping on this field,” said the University of Houston baseball commit. “Last season, we didn’t play here at all, but now it feels great to be back.”
Last season, Hurricane Harvey damaged Andy Wells Field completely, with floodwaters decimating the field, batting cages and dugouts.
The Mustangs didn’t get on Andy Wells Field until March 18 for their first workout back in 2018, but being back home means a lot for the team.
Repairs have been made to Andy Wells Field to give it a new look. The new turf near home plate goes back to the stands with a brand new brick wall that will have padding. The turf extends down the first and third base lines all the way to the coaches boxes. The bullpens will also have new turf.
The Mustangs will have their first non-district home game on Feb. 18 against Klein Collins.
“It feels normal again,” Richardson said. “Last year we were going to another facility to practice and then we would go 30 minutes away with traffic to Summer Creek. It was tough last year for sure, but we did with what we had to do as a team. This year we’re back on our home turf. I expect us to do a lot of good things this year.”
Kingwood head coach Kelly Mead, who begins his 12th season in The Liveable Forest, is happy to be back at Andy Wells Field.
“It feels refreshing,” said Mead. “I give all the credit to our district and our administration for keeping Kingwood together as a school going into Summer Creek. We want to thank the Summer Creek administration as well for taking us in and working with us.”
The Mustangs open the season No. 4 in Class 6A in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll on the heels of Kingwoods third straight district title.
The Mustangs return all of their infielders, including Richardson and junior second baseman Masyn Winn, who was named District MVP last season and is committed to the University of Arkansas.
“Our team is really tight right now,” Winn said. “We lost some key pieces from last year’s team, but I have no doubt in my mind that the new guys going into that role will help us out. If we play our ball the way we’re supposed to we will win games this year. Right now we just need to focus on improving every day.”
The Mustangs will look to new pitchers this season to strengthen the rotation with Tanner Brook and Cody Lancaster graduating.
Mead said he has pitchers on the roster than can help the Mustangs this season.
“We have a lot of numbers,” Mead said. “We’re expecting several guys to step up and pitch some innings for us this year. We had two guys last season on JV get a lot of innings and now these kids will be put on the big stage. We have the pieces, and now we just have to play.”
Trey Dees, Parker Hemphill, Carson Irvin and Christopher Foster are looking to play huge roles for the Mustangs’ pitching staff this season.
Senior pitcher Sam Friday said he is ready to step in to help the Mustangs’ rotation.
“I just want to throw strikes and go deep in games,” said the right handed pitcher. “We have a lot of energy right now, and its good. As a pitching staff we have to work on our off-speed stuff, get ahead in counts and just throw strikes.”
The Mustangs will compete in District 22-6A this season, which includes Atascocita, Humble, Summer Creek, Pasadena, Pasadena Memorial, Dobie, South Houston, and Sam Rayburn.
“When you win district titles in a row you put a target on your chest,” Mead said. “We didn’t play at home last year so we won every district game last year on the road. We truly were road warriors. I don’t get caught up in the wins and losses. I get caught up in the production of the team. For me it’s about trying to teach these kids the right way to be the best team we can be.”
This is a new Kingwood baseball team, but the pride and tradition in the program still goes on no matter what obstacles are ahead.
“I always tell the kids that you play for the K on your chest,” Mead said. “There’s lots of kids that have come through Kingwood and every year the team is playing for those kids and the community.”