Manvel Baseball pic

While starting their season slowly, the Manvel Mavericks closed 2020 on a strong note with a victory over Crosby, prior to the 24-5A Baseball opener against neighboring Shadow Creek.

(Courtesy photo)

While the UIL’s official cancellation notice for the high school spring sports year cut short the baseball season for all teams across Texas, all three area squads closed their seasons on strong notes.

Alvin and Manvel posted impressive victories over North Shore and Crosby, respectively, while the Shadow Creek was off to its best start in school history with a 10-1-1 mark.

The head baseball coaches from each programs were asked the following questions about what made their seasons special and the impact both the play stoppage and cancellation had on their programs.

Alvin’s George Banda : Question: Talk about what made this team special and season in general.

Banda: “This team is so special, because from day two of this school year these boys have bought in to the expectations of Alvin Yellowjacket Baseball. These expectations included weightroom workouts and a  fall game schedule, which was the basis of the foundation which led into our spring. These boys held each other accountable and built a brotherhood, which would make any coach proud.

“We always preach strong integrity, culture and discipline, which these boys bought in to and grew stronger in throughout the year. Each of these 51 boys brought something different to this program each and every day. The way they competed against their opponents and each other made us proud and we were looking forward to where this would take them throughout this season. They practiced hard which showed up in the way they played each game in our short season.”

Question: With this unprecedented situation, this has possibly brought the season to an end. Talk about your seniors. This has got to be real hard on them.

Banda: “The senior group is special. It has been hard on them especially those that have been with the program all four years and were looking forward to bigger and better things. They knew we had a good thing going and were looking forward to district play. It breaks our heart as coaches to watch this end for them. We sent this out shortly after we got the word (about the UIL canceling the spring sports season):

“As  coaches, you develop relationships with young people, but as baseball coaches, you develop relationships with groups of young men. As they enter high school, you get to see first hand the development of each player, until they walk across the stage for graduation. Today was tough to swallow, that our day (March 12, 2020) would be our last game or being together as a team, much less with our seniors.

“This group was special. Each brought something different to the table. In the four years we’ve spent together, we expeierienced ups, downs, blood, sweat and tears. You will be missed.  In dice, you hope to roll that lucky seven, which will we did with our seven seniors in the class of 2020 (Keithley, Hinson, McCoy, Whitlock, Sullivan, Simmons and Jeffrey). We as a baseball coaching staff at Alvin High School thank you.

Question: How you have kept in contact with the guys and what their reactions to everything has been?

Banda: “We have kept in contact with the boys twice a week. As soon as all this hit, we gave them a workout packet for them to do from home with the expectations we would have, if we were practicing together.”

Manvel’s Kelly Kerlin - Question: Talk about what made this team special and season in general.

Kerlin: This team was special in that we only had three seniors.  We were a young, inexperienced group that was eager to play hard and learn from their mistakes.  We started off slow, but were starting to improve.  We played a tough scrimmage and tournament schedule and although the wins were hard to come by, this group had opportunities to win nearly every game they played.  

“They played with youthful exuberance. This group worked hard and brought a great attitude to the ballpark every day.”

Question: With this unprecedented situation, this has possibly brought the season to an end. Talk about your seniors. This has got to be real hard on them.

Kerlin: “Like I mentioned earlier, we have three seniors.  Landon Donley was coming off a major arm surgery from last year.  He worked his tail off to get back on the field.  I wish he would have had the opportunity to play his full senior season.  He will undoubtedly be a success in his future endeavors.

“Jaden Johnson was having a good season.  He was a part-time starter last year and finally had an opportunity to be an everyday starter for us in center field.  He worked really hard at his game and was showing signs of being a big contributor to our team offensively.

“Dillan Novak has been on the varsity since his sophomore year.  He was our most experienced player.  He was having a great season and played a vital role for us.  

“These three seniors are awesome young men.  They are very respectful, mature beyond their years, good in the classroom, model citizens of Manvel High School.  They will be missed tremendously.”

Question: How you have kept in contact with the guys and what their reactions to everything has been?

Kerlin: “We have tried to stay in contact with our guys.  We send out texts and have had virtual team meetings.  They have told me that they have found ways of staying in shape.  Their main reactions have been of the disappointment of not being able to play.  The uncertainty of our season and boredom at home were other main complaints.  I feel for them.  I wish I could tell them we will get to finish our season, but we don’t know that for a fact.  Not having answers for them is hard.”

Shadow Creek’s Tyler Hoelscher - Question: Talk about what made this team special and season in general.

Hoelscher: “I’ve been at SCHS since we opened and so this was the first year to have kids that have been with the program since they were freshmen. It’s exciting to see for the first time just how much these juniors and seniors have developed and progressed since their freshmen year.  

“What I believe made this team so special and this season so exciting was the fact that we had almost everyone returning. The guys gained a lot of experience last year and have matured tremendously. We still had positions that needed to be filled and during the fall semester we had several guys who were on JV last year step up and fill them.

“Last year the season ended on a tough lost during playoffs, which left me and the team anxious to get back out on the field. During the preseason the team worked real hard and it excites you as a coach to see teammates push and compete against one another and to just see everyone buy in. I think that is what made this season so exciting for us and it was sad to see it end this way.”

Question: With this unprecedented situation, this has possibly brought the season to an end. Talk about your seniors. This has got to be real hard on them.

Hoelscher: “So in our program we have only four seniors: Lloyd Richards, Warren Shankle, Quentus Miles, and Aaron Gonzales. There is much to be said about this group of seniors. These four were all great guys to be around and they brought a lot of talent to our team. “

“They will definitely be missed next year. I can only imagine how hard it was for the seniors to hear that the season has been canceled and that their high school career is over. Every athlete dreads the day that they will hang up their cleats for the last time, but for the majority of athletes they can anticipate it.

“With news that covid-19 was spreading rapidly, UIL unexpectedly had no choice, but to shut down or end all UIL activities immediately. Although the seniors didn’t get to finish out their season, they definitely showed me and everyone else how much potential they and their team had. The season ended on a good note, which for the seniors I feel helps because it is always better to go out on top.

“We ended the season with a district win against Manvel which gave us a 10-1-1 record. I try to stay positive with the seniors and so I’m glad that, given the shortened season that we had, the seniors were at least able to fill it up with good memories.”

Question: How you have kept in contact with the guys and what their reactions to everything has been?

Hoelscher: “I have kept in touch with all the guys in various ways. However, it would be nice to actually see them and interact with them in person. Most of the guys I have talked to have said that their families are doing well. Everyone I have talked to had a pretty positive attitude towards everything. They were all shocked by how fast everything quickly escalated and, like most of us, are just trying to adapt to this new standard of living that we have endured.”

Question: Do you know how the guys have been trying to stay active during this time?

Hoelscher: “Most of the guys that I have talked to have been going nonstop since our last practice back on March 11. With how unpredictable everything was and still is, the UIL had to keep pushing back the return date and then finally last week it was announced that the season would be canceled.  I think what kept a lot of the guys motivated was the fact that there was a set date for when we would return and that gave the guys the motivation to keep lifting, throwing and hitting on their own.”

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