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Stokes seeking home run at state

Keeps Aledo golf tradition


For a baseball player, Braden Stokes turned out to be a pretty good golfer.

Less than three years ago his dream was to follow his dad, Jason Stokes, into major league baseball. However, he chose the path of his grandfather and took up the game of golf.

And now the sophomore is competing for a state championship as he qualified for the Class 5A State Tournament April 29-30 at Legacy Hills Golf Club in Georgetown. He qualified after posting rounds of 75 and 76 at Lubbock's Hillcrest in the Region I Tournament April 15-16.

It's the third consecutive season in which the Bearcats will be represented at state. Two years ago they qualified as a team and last season Braylon Mahanay, now playing at Weatherford College, qualified individually. 

"I played baseball ever since I was very young. All the guys on the Aledo baseball team I played with," said Stokes. 

And while he still loves baseball — he played catcher — he fell in love with golf while joining his grandfather on some outings.

"I'd go with him every few months, then he invited me to play some charity tournaments with him. That led to some junior tournaments and I just loved it," Stokes said. "I gave up baseball and started playing a lot more golf."

That was just less than three years ago, but when you love something you learn in a hurry.

Pro pedigree

Stokes' father, Jason, still holds the Texas high school record for home runs in a season. As a senior at Coppell he hit 25 on his way to being named the Gatorade High School Baseball Player of the Year in 2000.

Jason Stokes, a first baseman, was selected in the second round of the 2000 Major League Baseball draft by the Florida Marlins. His best season in the minor leagues was in 2002 with the Kane County Cougars, where he compiled a .341 batting average with 27 home runs and 75 runs batted in, earning him both The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year Award and the Topps Minor League Player of the Year Award.

Injuries plagued his career. Despite his immense talent, his career was cut short in 2010.

Ready for state

The younger Stokes said he's proud to keep the tradition of Aledo golf going. It's the 19th time Aledo will have a competitor at state in the past 20 official tournaments. 

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 tournament.

"It feels great to keep it alive," he said. "They have such a great tradition here and I'm happy to be a part of it. I want to get back next year with my teammates — but I'm focusing on this season first.

"I've been working on my short game. I put in about 30 hours of putting and chipping last week."

While he won't likely be facing the same elements — namely the legendary West Texas winds — that he saw in Lubbock, he did note that playing in those conditions does help prepare a golfer for virtually anything.

"Playing in windy conditions makes you be more precise and focus on small things like aim spots," he said. 

State course

Aledo coach Brian Mourning said the course at Legacy as "not super tough. It's a retirement community in Sun City."

However, that said, it can be deceptive, he added.

"There aren't a lot of elevated greens. You can hit irons off the tee, which are more controllable," he said. "You can hit a driver off the tee, but be careful not to run through the fairway."

Stokes said he's never played the course, but said his friend Mahanay told him, "Braylon said the main thing is to hit the fairways."

And yes, he admitted to being a little nervous, but he calms himself with a simple message to himself — one he delivers before each time he plays.

"It's another round of golf. You're playing yourself."

So far, he's done a good job of winning that battle — along with besting most other golfers he faces.

"He is a great kid with a great attitude," Mourning said. "I think he's ready.

"And I'm glad I've got him for another couple years."


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