By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The state-ranked Waxahachie Indians are off to quite the impressive start to the baseball season. Their 5-1 run through the annual Robert Dulin Memorial Tournament further proved it, too.
Waxahachie fell in the opening tourney game against Midlothian on Thursday afternoon, 4-0. The still-state-ranked Indians then reeled off wins against Birdville (5-0), Mansfield Legacy (7-6), Midlothian (4-0), Legacy (5-4) and Birdville (7-3).
The string of victories that had the Indians at 8-2 overall through two tournament appearances resulted in Waxahachie being ranked No. 10 in this week’s Texas Association of Baseball Coaches’ poll. The Tribe also began the season ranked No. 10 in the TXhighschoolBaseball.com poll, which moved the ball club down to 14th following the Dulin tournament.
“If I am going to be honest, I didn’t think we would get off to this hot of a start,” junior outfield Jared Thomas said. “But our guys are hitting the ball well and pitchers are throwing strikes. And that is all you can really ask for at this point.”
When asked the most surprising aspect of this year’s team, Thomas confidently and emphatically said it was the Indians’ competitiveness.
“These guys just want to win — more or as much as I want to,” said Thomas, who has a verbal commitment to The University of Texas at Austin. “It is a lot of fun and we have a lot of chemistry amongst the guys.”
Thomas posted a .357-batting average during the six-game tournament with a team-high 11 RBIs. He also slugged one of three Waxahachie home runs — a two-run shot over the right-field fence against Manfield Legacy on Friday that knotted the game at 6-all.
But it was senior Xavien Thompson, a University of Mary Hardin-Baylor-signee, who stole the show at the plate.
The outfielder tallied 9 RBIs and seven extra-base hits on the weekend, helping him to an impressive .576-batting average. Two of those extra-base hits left the yard, too.
X-man, as he is known around the diamond, hit both of his home runs against Birdville.
The first-round tripper came in the bottom of the fifth Thursday evening to help the Indians to a 5-0 win. His second snuck over the right-field wall near the 321-foot sign in the bottom of an eventual 5-run inning Saturday afternoon — and it came after head coach Tracy Wood had called for a hit-and-run. Waxahachie went on to win the game, 7-3.
When asked whose home run went further, Thomas laughed and said, “100%, I am going to say mine. No doubt, no doubt.”
Waxahachie ultimately outscored the three visiting teams 28-17 on the weekend, including a pair of shutouts against Birdville and Midlothian.
Wood noted he was “really happy” with the pitching staff and team effort as a whole.
“We have thrown a lot of guys out there,” the skipper added. “We just played six games this weekend and that is tough to do.”
Caleb Perry, Grayson Smith, Thomas, Thompson and Lucas Ferguson picked up wins on the bump, while Hunter Poynor and Smith collected a save.
“The bottom of the order hasn’t been swinging it real hot for us the last couple of games, but that’s baseball and we know how that goes,” Wood continued. “We used a lot of guys in these two tournaments and I’m really excited about our pitching.
“We still have a few question marks that we have to figure out, but it’s a grind, man. When you go six games like that, it’s a grind. But our dugout and bench have kept their energy, and it’s been fantastic. I love it. I’d rather do this than go to Hawaii with my wife.”
All photos by Travis M. Smith/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith