AP NEWS

No. 9 Atascocita fueled by loss in regional semifinal

February 1, 2019

Atascocita made it all the way to the Class 6A regional semifinals last season.

The Eagles went to the deciding game in a best-of-three series with the Mustangs and came up short.

Cypress Ranch would go on to win the Class 6A state title, and the Eagles still have that season-ending series in their minds.

“Most of us still haven’t gotten over that loss,” said outfielder Jordan Ginn. “Of course it’s motivation, and we’re trying to build on that and hopefully make it farther this year.”

Atascocita started after school work outs on Jan. 25 to begin the baseball season. The Eagles will begin non-district play at the Humble ISD tournament, which will be held from Feb. 21 through the 23rd.

“Before we start district I just want to see everyone get better,” Ginn said. “I want to see our pitchers throwing strikes, our outfielders making plays and us getting some hits at the plate. Our chemistry is great right now and we just need to stick together.”

Head coach Eric Matthews is excited about the Eagles.

“As you move torwards the first day of the season it’s kind of like Christmas morning for players and coaches,” said Matthews. We’re excited to get out here and move around to see what is going to happen this season for us.”

The Eagles are ranked No. 9 in Class 6A in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll. However, Matthews said the Eagles will have to earn it on the field.

“It’s a new year and a new team,” Matthews said. “New players are going to step in and fill in roles that we need them to play. Teams change every year, and we’re looking to see what our identity is this season.

Atascocita brings back six starters, including pitcher and Sam Houston State signee Caleb Cannon in addition to Clay Bradford, who is committed to Temple Junior College.

Experiencing a deep playoff run last season will help the Eagles this season.

“Experience is key,” said the left-handed pitcher Bradford. “We have a lot of guys that have been there and done that. We have a lot of young talent that got to experience a deep playoff run last year. Now, we just have to come out to practice and focus on getting better every day.”

The Eagles will compete in District 22-6A, which has Kingwood, Summer Creek, Humble, Pasadena, Pasadena Memorial, South Houston, Dobie and Sam Rayburn.

Matthews realizes that there will not be an easy game in district play.

“We’re going to have to compete night in and night out in district,” Matthews said. “We’re going to have to find a way to win games when we’re in district.”

Matthews has built a culture at Atascocita on the diamond and he wants to see the Eagles get better in the preseason before district starts.

“We just want to go out and get a little better each day,” Matthews said. “We have some guys that we’re putting in some spots for new roles. The kids set high expectations, and it’s up to them to work hard to accomplish those goals. Our goals are always to win district titles and compete for a state title.”

marcus.gutierrez@chron.com