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Bearcats eye repeat district title


Aledo had a spectacular 2023 season on the baseball diamond. The Bearcats went 23-12 on the year and secured the District 5-5A title with a 9-3 record in league play. 

That was last season. 

With the 2024 season starting up, this season’s Bearcats are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice. However, it won’t be easy.

Not that it ever is in this district. With the Bearcats picked as the preseason favorites to capture the title, a lot of baseball stands between the team and that prognostication becoming a reality. While the Bearcats expect to be formidable once again this season, everyone in the district is a threat to stonewall that goal.

“If you don’t go out and play well, you’re going to get beat,” said Aledo head coach, Chad Barry. “It doesn’t matter who you play. There aren’t any games where you can take a deep breath and relax. I look at our district and think it’s really anybody’s district to win. We’re picked to win it, but if we don’t come out hot and play well, we’ll be on the outside looking in.”

Around the league

Saginaw has both of their top hurlers back this season, one of which was Pitcher of the Year for the district in 2023. Azle and Granbury were both young last season, so Barry expects them to be contenders in the district this year. Wichita Falls Rider will return almost everyone from their 2023 season in which the Raiders placed third in the district. 

The one team that did lose a significant amount of talent to graduation after last season is Northwest. Although he expects the Texans to have a significant amount of new names in the lineup, Barry also knows the real strength in Justin is their head coach, Weston Franco.

“He’s really good at what he does,” commended Barry. “He has a way of getting the best out of those kids.”

Solid pitching

As for the Bearcats, the makeup of this club is a slight deviation from last season. While there’s some uncertainty around how effective his team will be at the plate, Barry is already seeing a pitching staff that looks more formidable than the arms were last season. 

Among those arms is Luke Saunders. Early in the season, Saunders has shown himself to be the ace of the rotation.

Along with Saunders, Jenson Huffman and Devin Miller have stepped up significantly to start off the season. Huffman earned some relief innings out of the bullpen during the early season tournaments in 2023, but only saw a few innings here and there from then on. Barry stated both Huffman and Miller have been pleasant surprises during scrimmages, citing their command and pitch movement as areas of improvement in the past year.

Moving around

With team captain and starting shortstop Trace Mazon graduating at the end of 2023 and transitioning to collegiate baseball at Weatherford College, Boyd Thompson has stepped up to fill the void left by Mazon’s departure in more ways than one. Thompson was groomed by Mazon to take over as the leader for the Bearcats in 2024.

“[Boyd’s] stepped right into that role, and he’s running with it,” Barry said. “He’s doing a really good job. He’s got some help from Ryan [Jones], and a couple other seniors that are stepping up to lead by example in other ways. So far the leadership part’s been pretty good.”

Filling the leadership void is one thing. Thompson is also taking on the challenge of filling the void at shortstop as well. In his senior season, he’ll go from being the premier leadoff hitter in the district and starting second baseman to premier leadoff hitter and starting shortstop.

Thompson isn’t the only Bearcat taking on the task of learning a new position. Weston Nance has moved over from being the backup third baseman behind Jones to take the starting job at second. While the transition will take some time and a lot of work, Barry said Nance has a quality bat they are just trying to find a spot for in the lineup.

The Bearcats will be in action on Friday, March 1, when they take on the Pearland Oilers in the opening round of the DFW Clash Tournament at 4 p.m.

Attempts to reach coach Heather Myers for a Ladycat softball season preview were unsuccessful.


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