As the school year was winding down, many of the area’s top high school athletes were gearing up to compete at the collegiate level, including a standout group of players from Memorial High School.
The 15 athletes, who’ll be attending major universities across the nation, were honored during a special reception at Memorial. “It’s really exciting, just because we’ve been working towards getting a scholarship for so long,” said Memorial swimmer Catherine Wagner. Wagner, who won the 5A state championship in the 100-yard breaststroke, is ranked among the nation’s fastest swimmers in that event.
One of the nation’s top amateur golfers, Memorial’s Corey Whitsett, was also on hand for the event. Whitsett will play golf at the University of Alabama this fall. “I really like their head golf coach,” said Whitsett. “I think he’ll help me improve my game.”
In baseball, the Mustangs are sending a fantastic foursome of players to the next level, including Baron Davis (Harvard), Joshua Michalec (Baylor), Nick Bergmann (Texas A&M) and Jacob Dahlstrand (Houston). “This says that we have a really good program and a great coach,” said Dahlstrand.
The Mustangs will be represented at the collegiate level in many other sports, including: Alexandra Ciaccio (volleyball, William & Mary), Elizabeth Gilbert (track, Houston), William Groesbeck (track, BYU), Trey Gregory (football, Baylor), Alex Pujol (swimming, Alabama), Amir Rahbar (tennis, Xavier), Cameron Strealy (soccer, Texas Lutheran) and Morgan Zabel (soccer, LSU).
It was a crowning moment for the Episcopal Knights baseball team, which captured the Southwest Preparatory Conference Championship. Episcopal defeated Fort Worth Country Day 13-0 in the title game of the conference tournament. “It’s been six years since Episcopal won the championship, and this was a special group of players,” said Episcopal baseball coach Matt Fox.
In the win over Country Day, Episcopal pitcher Cameron Fox threw a no-hitter, which, amazingly enough, was the second no-hitter of the day for Episcopal. Earlier, Knights pitcher Steve Mann fired a no-hitter in the Knights’ 7-0 victory over Episcopal School of Dallas.
The Knights capped off the season with 11 straight victories. “We definitely played the best when it counted most,” said Fox. The Knights defeated several outstanding baseball programs, including Houston Christian, which owned the state’s No. 1 ranking among private schools.
Offensively, the Knights were led by junior leftfielder Travis Gauntt, who owned a .435 average in the regular season. First baseman Carson Cone was hitting over .400, while centerfielder Lukas Forsythe, who’ll play at West Virginia University next season, had slugged eight home runs. “We had a lot of guys who could really swing the bat,” said Fox. “Plus, we had great leaders like Drew Webber, who was such a difference maker as our leadoff hitter and shortstop.”
On the mound, the Knights were led by a trio of pitchers in Mann, Fox and Zach Speer. Speer threw a complete-game shutout against the Class 5A Galveston Ball Tors. “It was just a total team effort,” Fox said.
Despite a young and inexperienced team, the Second Baptist Eagles were once again among the state’s top private-school teams. The Eagles boasted a 25-8 regular-season record while winning the TAPPS 4-4A district championship. It was the Eagles’ ninth district championship in the last 11 seasons.
“I knew we had some talented players, but only a handful of our guys had any varsity experience,” said Second Baptist head coach Jeff Schroeder. “In fact, the only two seniors in the lineup were centerfielder Brandon Powell, who’ll play college ball at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., as well as outfielder Jason Stading, who will play collegiate ball at Southwestern University,” he added.
Still, the Eagles grew up in a hurry by winning the Father Wilson/Sister Julia tournament early in the season. Along with defeating St. Thomas High School in the tournament semifinals, the Eagles then defeated none other than the powerful Bellaire Cardinals in the championship game. “That certainly was a marquee win,” said Schroeder.
“A lot of our young guys have really developed and been major contributors,” said Schroeder. “Juniors Jay Calhoun, Trey Soape and Garrett Luce have all done a fine job, as have a bunch of my sophomores, including Billy Arendt, Drew Tolson, Jeremiah Briscoe, Daniel Rankin and Evan Brown.”
Editor’s Note: Coming up in next month’s column, we’ll have complete coverage of the Bellaire Cardinals baseball team as they seek another berth in the 5A state tournament.
SportzBuzz’s Todd Freed is the host and executive producer of High School Sports Live, which can be seen each Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 6 p.m. on Houston’s 55, KTBU-TV. To submit information for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) todd (at) thebuzzmagazines (dot) com.