Heading into the season expectations were high for the Kempner baseball team but injuries brought a whole series of challenges and the Cougars found themselves just edging into the playoffs with a fourth place finish.
“Getting to the playoffs was exciting due to all of the adverse things this team had to overcome,” head coach Marcus Jones said. “Losing four potential starters before we even played a single regular-season game hurt us.”
The team suddenly found themselves having to adjust and got off to a slow start before coming on strong at the end of the season for an overall 13-14 record.
“Our team dealt with a lot this season. I am very proud of their effort and could not be more proud of a group of young men,” Coach Jones said. “Them being able to go 5-2 down the stretch in district was a testament to their desire.”
Season highlights included a 20-2 dominating victory over Hightower for Coach Jones’ 300 win. A 1-0 shutout victory over Ridgepoint where Simeon Woods Richardson rung up 13 strikeouts from the mound and hit two home runs at the plate. The Cougars also exploded at the plate to beat Bush 16-2 and Austin 11-2. They also displayed their pitching strengths as Blake Ehlinger, Noah Huerta and Richardson combined to throw a 3-0 shutout over Dulles.
Then on senior night, everything seemed to click for the Cougars as they defeated Clements 9-1 behind a strong pitching performance from Richardson allowing only five hits and hitting a two- run homer to give the Cougars the lead. Ehlinger also had two RBIs and a homer to aid the attack and Alex Cellner notched two hits.
The Cougars lost the last district game to Travis to finish fourth and advance to the playoffs where they loss to Katy Tompkins 6-1.
The team will also have a big adjustment to get use to next year with Coach Jones retiring but good news for the Cougars AJ Montgomery, Calvin Lopez, Reagan Clarke, Noah McCollum, and Michael Bond return and will form the nucleus of next season’s team.
According to Jones, none of the players will have a lot of experience but “young teams usually are hungry teams, want to prove they belong.” He expects an enthusiastic team next spring.
The JV and sophomore baseball teams both won about half their games this year.
The Cougars also had three players who received college scholarships- Alec Carr (Texas), Simeon Woods Richardson (Texas), Noah Huerta (Texas Tech) – this season.