By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Three consecutive shutouts have the Ovilla Eagles rolling through their district baseball slate. The string of wins also has legendary head coach Greg Hayes and the Eagles eyeing yet another run to the TAPPS state tournament.
One of those blanks was also the team’s second no-hitter of the young season and the first for Lucas Seymore. The Eagles are now 10-3 on the year after defeating Longview Heritage, 15-0, on Tuesday.
Seymore (4-1, 0.75 ERA) was brilliant, needing just 53 pitches to strike out four and walk one over 4.0 IP. Thirty-three of his 53 pitches found the strike zone on an evening when he tossed a first-pitch strike to 10 of the 14 batters he faced.
“He is our ace, and he’ll have to pitch like [he can] for us to get back to the state tournament,” Hayes said.
Seymore also finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and one RBI.
Caleb Bjerke (.476 BA) recorded the lone Eagle triple on the night, while John Hatcher, Payne Roye, Andrew Herndon and Parker Navarro each drove in a pair of runs.
Ovilla Christian collected 12 hits in 24 total team at-bats in the run-rule win.
Wesley Bryant (2-1, 0.48 ERA) tossed the Eagles first no-hitter of the season in a 26-0 three-inning victory against Greenville Christian on March 26.
Bryant also currently leads the team with a .536-batting average and jaw-dropping 1.98 OPS. He has 12 extra-base hits (7 2B, 5 3B) and one home run. His 15 RBIs and 20 runs scored also lead the team.
“He is our leadoff hitter and our catalyst,” Hayes explained. “He is our key guy and our best hitter.”
Ovilla Christian is no stranger to the TAPPS state tournament. In fact, the Eagles have been penciled in before the first pitch of the season for the better part of a decade.
The COVID-19 shutdown paused the Eagles’ run of five consecutive trips to the state tournament. Ovilla had advanced to the tournament in each season from 2015-19, while also making the trip in 2013 — marking six appearances in seven seasons minus the COVID-laden 2020.
When asked what the Eagles’ outlook is for this season, Hayes was confident in his response.
“We have the same outlook as we have had for the same few years here — we want to get down to that state tournament and win the thing,” Hayes said. “[…] Getting to a state tournament isn’t easy, but we do have strong pitching, and that helps us get there. It also covers up some things. We have to hit better and we haven’t really had any continuity yet.
“As a team, we have to hit better. We run the bases well and we have good pitching. But 1-9 has to hit better. Once you get to state, 1-9 has to hit and we just aren’t there yet. And, even when you aren’t hitting, you have to find ways to create offense.”
Ovilla Christian will face Longview Heritage at 7 p.m. Friday in Ovilla. The Eagles will then travel to Blum for a 7 p.m. first pitch on Tuesday.
When asked what makes this group special and program so special, Hayes was quick to point to pedigree.
“We have been blessed with great players. We have just really had a great group of young players,” he continued. “And with this group, when we saw them when they were little, we knew that once they got here, they’d be great. We’ve just been blessed and we are ready.”