Big Red polishing diamonds
Top 10 state rankings began to bloom in Bridge City this time of year. It has become perennial. The 2008 Bridge City Cardinal and Lady Cardinal baseball and softball teams have cruised through Dist. 21-3A undefeated and are tallying numbers that are sending big ripples across the state.
The latest Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association poll have lifted the Cardinals to No. 3 in the state. Monday, the Lady Cardinals moved up to No. 4 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association softball poll.
As unbelievable as it may seem, the Lady Cardinals post 89 consecutive district wins after defeating the Orangefield Lady Bobcats 3-0 Tuesday night. So far the Lady Cards have out scored their opponents 81 points to just 7. They have added 19 wins to the district winning streak that dates back to 2001 and they still have plenty of action remaining in the season. With three games left in district play The Lady Cardinals are eying the Region III softball playoffs that begin April 5 in the bidistrict round.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal baseball team increased their undefeated district season to 10-0 by downing the Orangefield Bobcats, 5-2, Tuesday night as well.
Big bats in the Cardinal lineup have flailed opponents with a season total 23 home runs, scoring 212 runs in the process. At the plate the team has produced 172 RBI with an on base average of .471. Cardinal senior catcher Casey Jackson leads the hitting with .446 BA and five homers even with pitchers choosing to walk him 30 times this season. Seven Cardinal batters hit over .300. First baseman Blake Snyder is hitting near Jackson at .424 with four home runs. Sophomore third baseman Joseph Robertson bats at .371 and a home run. The next four Cardinal batters all hit at .333, Matt Hicks, Blake Hubbard, Jason Clark and Luke Rhodes. Hicks has four homeruns.
In Jasper, the Bulldogs are still wondering what hit them Friday night. It was Jackson and Snyder. With a hefty 5-0 lead over Bridge City in the defending state champion’s home stadium, Jackson stunned the Bulldogs with a fourth inning three-run homer. Then in the fifth inning Snyder nailed one over the fence and Jasper began to crumble. The Cardinals won the critical Dist. 21-3 match up 6-5.
It was the second time this season the Cardinals defeated Jasper who knocked them out of the 2007 state tournament in the Region III final series last season. Jasper went on to win state. But now Cardinal returners are savoring the comfortable two game lead they have over their playoff nemesis. Only four district games remain for Bridge City. The Region III playoffs begin May 2 in the bidistrict round and the Cardinals are a sure bet to be there.
Getting their own shot at Jasper the Lady Cardinals smoked the Lady Bulldogs Monday night 11-1 in just five innings- even without ace pitcher Shandi Conner on the hill. Emilee Reed got the win for the Lady Cardinals relieved by Jessica Franklin and Marlee Lopez with junior utility player Emily Navarro behind the plate. Reed came back in the fifth inning to put the polish on the victory.
Pitching and good defense is a hallmark of both Bridge City squads. Conner has hurled 78 strikeouts for the Lady Cards so far this season. Her remaining two senior teammates Lauren and Jenna Angelle give Conner plenty of backup in the infield.
Sophomore Matt Hicks leads the Cardinals in pitching with 72 strikeouts and a 1.52 ERA. Senior pitchers Jaden Dillon and Jason Clark round out the Cardinal bull pen. Dillon has 42 strikeouts to his record and Clark has sent 46 batters to the dugout. None have losses on the hill. All three players are also key to the Cardinal defense elsewhere on the field. Hicks as short stop and Dillon and Clark join junior center fielder Dustin Breaux in the outfield.
Casey Jackson has been with Cardinal head baseball coach Billy Bryant four of the his five season coaching the team. After his first three seasons with Bryant, Jackson had been to two UIL State Baseball Tournaments, in 2005 and 2006, and the 2007 UIL Region III Final. Back in April, Coach Bryant surpassed the 200th career win mark. As of Tuesday his career standings are 215 wins and counting.
Lady Cardinal head coach Sophia Mount, a former star pitcher for the LSU Lady Tigers, took over last year and won the Dist. 21-3A Softball Championship. In her second year as head coach her record stand at 29 consecutive district wins while the Lady Cards keep knocking down opponents. Assisting Mount are assistant coaches George Navarro, Alan Ashworth and manager Rikki Shoemaker.
Both teams have some tough district games ahead as the season winds down. The Lady Cardinals (19-4-1) travel to Kirbyville Friday and to Hamshire-Fannette, April 15. Senior night will be the last home game April 18 when the Lady Cardinals take on a potential spoiler the West Orange-Stark Lady Mustangs.
The Cardinal baseball team will have senior night April 22 hosting Hardin-Jefferson. They also are on the road against Kirbyville and Hamshire-Fannett, Friday and Tuesday. Bridge City hosts the West Orange-Stark Mustangs, April 18.
Ahead of the Lady Cardinals in the TGCA Class-3A state rankings are No. 1 Spendora, No. 2 Burkburnett and No. 3 Medina Valley. Leading the Cardinal baseball team in the TBCA poll are No. 1 Medina Valley and No. 2 Cuero.