Badger Baseball comes out swinging

Sports Editor

With a winter of intensive training and strategic planning behind them, the Badger Baseball team took the field with determination for the season opener, some heavy hitters, strong defense and a hunger for victory.

The team spirit, sense of camaraderie and excitement has really set the stage for Badger Baseball this season.  With players like Gabe Watson and Jan Avila returning for their sophomore season before heading off to play division I baseball.  Watson is set to play for Purdue next year, and Avila for Rutgers University next fall.  

Avila said one of his favorite things about this season is everyone coming together.  “The team has worked hard this season on building a strong pitching staff, and following that up with the hits,” he said.  “Getting out there and hitting the ball has brought us all together to create one big Badger Baseball Family,” 

Avila explained how all the pre-season training and teamwork is paying off. The charisma, as all the fans are saying, is contagious this year. The stage has been set for an unforgettable Badger Baseball season.

The Amarillo College baseball season opener came out claws up and swinging with some heavy hits at Hodgetown  last weekend against Johnson County Community College.  The eighth ranked team in JUCO threw some heavy pitches, while The Badgers held defense.

The Badgers season opener did not result in total victory, ending instead with a draw after the four game series. 

Johnson County pitched a tough first game with their solid pitching staff.  No. 22, Duncan Bowles, and No. 14, Evan Peterson, held the line for some great offensive moves. 

Pitchers from both teams seemed to fight it out, play for play, with neither team scoring. Johnson County, Dagen Brewer, broke the stalemate with a sixth inning homer to make it 2-0. 

David De Hoyos came back with a crack of the bat and a home run in the bottom of the inning, and the Badgers had it all tied up after an Avila triple in the seventh. The claws were up, Badgers fought a strong defense, but fell short in the eighth, with Johnson County scoring two runs. Game one in the series was a loss, with JCC edging out the Badgers overall 4-3.

Game two, of the four game series, started to show some promise, as the offense came to play. Plainview High School MVP, Isaac Garza, threw some blazing fast pitches, striking out two and bringing home the win in game two for AC. 

The third game would be the last win for AC this series, but it highlighted some of this year’s strengths in No. 9, Payton Bush, with his first college single and run in game three. The Randal Raiders High School graduate was enthusiastic about this season opener. “I’m here to focus on no errors, covering the gaps, good defense and being a team player,” he said. “It’s my first year, so all the sophomores that have me under their wing have made this whole pre-season fun.” 

Game three had another former Randal Raider incoming freshmen, Duncan Bowles, one of this year’s starting pitchers.  

Bowles successfully struck out four with one walk and three hits, bringing home the win for AC at 4-1.

The final game might have not been the outcome the Badgers were looking for, as they closed the weekend with a 13-1 loss, but the team showed everyone all the hard work they have put into pre-season.  The pitching staff, a cornerstone of Badger success, delivered a stellar performance, striking out opponents and effectively shutting down JCC.  The precision and coordination between pitchers and catchers showcased the team’s dedication to excellence.  

Unfortunately, against JCC, they fell short, but shone brightly nonetheless. With this last weekend highlighting talents like Avila, Watson, Sydney Ward and Bowles, next weekend’s game against Garden City Community College. at Hodegetown, will showcase this year’s promising, talented roster season once again.

Season openers can be a mixed bag, with teams still finding their grooves. Head coach, Brandon Rains, said he likes to keep it simple with a positive, optimistic outlook at all times. 

“As far as our opponents, we like to focus on what we do, which is throw strikes, limit the amount of walks and play conservative on defense,” he said.  Rains took teams to the college world series twice.  “Our goal will always be to compete for a conference championship year in and year out,” he said. “We feel we have the talent to do that, and all we need to do is play hard and play for one another.” 

Badger Baseball is coming in strong for its second season, and for a fairly new program, calls to play for Amarillo College come in daily. 

Rains is a team builder, which is made evident in his players moving on to division I schools, and the attitude of the team as a whole. “Just blow that fastball by them, before they have time to decide what to do next,” Watson, starting pitcher and outfielder, said.  “We started this season with a blank slate, and through all the teamwork, we have become really great friends with a great baseball community.”

With Badger Baseball returning to Hodgetown, and admission free to all AC staff, faculty and students, let’s go out there, claws up and show our Badger pride against Garden City Community College.

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