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The Stretch Run -- Baseball's Race to Round Rock
May 11, 2012VYPE MAGAZINE - West Houston
The Stretch Run
The Race to Round Rock in Full Swing
By Austin Staton
For high school students, the month of May is full of non-stop activities. From prom, final exams and graduation, there is another constant: baseball.
This spring, the sandlots across the city of Houston have produced not only elite individual talent, but elite teams on the national stage. When VYPE Magazine went to press this month, The Woodlands (15), Klein Collins (17), Tomball (25), Seven Lakes (35) and St. Pius X (41) were all ranked in the Top 50 of the Perfect Game Cross Checker prep rankings.
However, with postseason play comes upsets and even nationally-ranked teams aren’t immune from early-exits in the state playoffs. Although five area teams were nationally-ranked entering the first weekend of May, only four survived the first round of the playoffs as The Woodlands fell in walk-off fashion to Klein Oak.
While the city of Houston is loaded with talent, it could be argued that the best baseball in the area is played in District 13-5A. As the runner-up to Klein in district action, Klein Collins has had to overcome adversity this season to continue playing at a high level. The Tigers have suffered key injuries to crucial role players but the team has shown its resiliency as numerous student-athletes have had breakout seasons.
With several high-major signees and prospective draft prospects on the roster, it has been the play of sophomore two-way standout Jake Jarvis that has drawn our attention. With his presence on the mound and his timely hitting at the plate, Jarvis has solidified himself as one of the area’s best baseball prospects and one of the faces to watch as an upperclassman next year.
Led by Rex Hill, a 6-foot-3 southpaw that will be heading to Texas A&M next fall, Tomball has proven to be a solid team this spring as they finished behind both Klein and Klein Collins in the District 13-5A race. However, despite their third-place finish in district, they’ve built an impressive resume during the regular season as they’ve knocked off some of the area’s best teams including a two-game sweep of Atascocita in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
Remember The Spartans
Seven Lakes entered the season as one of the favorites in District 19-5A and the regular season left little doubt as to why they are one of the premier teams not only in the state, but the country. In addition to being ranked highly in the Perfect Game poll, Baseball America has the Spartans ranked 12th in the country, and the highest ranked amongst Houston-area teams.
Throughout the season, the Spartans have paired solid pitching with a highly productive offense. With only a handful of losses on the season, Seven Lakes started their push for Round Rock in explosive fashion with a dominating two-game sweep of Milby during the bi-district round. In those two games, the Spartans outscored Milby 22-2 and have proven that they are one of the favorites to emerge from Region III in the state playoffs.
The Pesky Panthers
Often times during the playoff push, the high school world turns to Round Rock and the Dell Diamond as the pinnacle for a successful season. However, for some of the area’s best private schools, Waco becomes the focus of teams that are trying to clinch a state championship.
As one of the traditional powerhouses regardless of classification within the city of Houston, St. Pius X is again making another strong postseason run at the time VYPE Magazine went to press. Following a 3-0 shutout victory over San Antonio Antonian in the regional final, the Panthers are heading back to Waco seeking their 16th state championship.
St. Pius X has enjoyed a successful 2012 campaign in large part to a talented duo of pitchers in Aaron Ford and Kohl Stewart. Both juniors, Ford, a lefty that is currently committed to the University of Houston, features is a low 80s fastball while Stewart, a Texas A&M commit has a nasty arsenal of pitches and is ranked as the 44th-best prospect in the 2013 class.
Following yet another berth in the state tournament this season, the Panthers will likely be amongst the areas elite teams again next season as many of their standout players will be back.