Joey Encalade

Last year was quite a year for Orange County baseball, with each of its teams making the playoffs. However, with that said, a lot of work has to be done. All of the teams have positions that need to be filled for another Orange County filled playoff run. We know one thing though; it’s going to be another exciting year of baseball.

In district 21-3A, Orangefield took the title with an 10-0 record. The Bobcats were 29-6 overall, with their season ending at the hands of the Jasper Bulldogs in the Regional Finals. The Bobcats only return two starters from last year’s team, seniors Quinton Evans and Jonathon DeRamus. They will also get help from two players that have seen a lot of playing time, Parker James and Jakob Brown. Several young players will need to step up to make the Bobcats’ season a success. Players such as Jake Best, Luke Johnson, Austin Scales, and Taylor Weldon will need to come up big for the Bobcats this year. Coach Bennett has already started sorting things out with a scrimmage against Ozen. The Bobcats will welcome Vidor for an opportunity to get in some more work in Saturday scheduled for noon.

Jasper also ended the Bridge City Cardinals’ year in 2010. They fell to the Bulldogs in the Regional Quarterfinals. The Cardinals went 8-2 in district, and had an overall record of 26-8-1. The Cardinals return several key players, Forrest Zoch, Matt Menard, Mitchel Hubbard, Zach Smith, Cameron Dishon, Dylan Mulhollan, Hayden Guidry, Colby Carpenter, and Brandon Simoneaux. It will be exciting to see who steps up for the Cardinals, who have a pretty good stock of underclassmen ready to make their mark. Coach Landry will have some hard choices to make.

They have already seen some players in action against Nederland Monday night with a 11 inning 15-13 scrimmage, highlighted by home runs by Forrest Zoch and Matt Menard. They will have another look as they take on Barbers Hill at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, followed by the alumni game starting around 3 p.m.

In 2010 West Orange Stark finished with a 17-12 record, to go along with their 5-5 mark in district play. Their season ended at the hands of the Orangefield Bobcats in the Area Round. The Mustangs return most of their team back for the 2011 campaign. Returning for the Stangs are Zane Anderson, Jonathan Hucko, Jordan Darnall, Josiah Phares, Darrius Mitchell, and Jacoy Finney. With James Thomas and Luke Domas added to mix, Coach Riojas only has a few spots to fill . The loss of Zach Droulliard to LCM will hurt, but they have several young players who are ready to step in.

Since Coach Riojas has a talented team with a lot of talented players, he has a few tough decisions he will have to contemplate. Daniel Woodson, Justyn Harrison, Bryce Crew, and Jonathan Smith will all be fighting for a spot on the field. The Mustangs are ready to make a run for the district title and playoffs. The Stangs opened up with a scrimmage against Kirbyville, and will host Memorial Friday, Feb. 11, scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Add Hampshire Fannett, Hardin Jefferson and Silsbee to finish out the 21-3a district, and it should be another fun and competitive year. In my opinion, the Silsbee Tigers are the only team that can spoil a clean sweep by Orange County. LetH’s team up and keep Silsbee out. It will be tough, but most of all, it’s going to be fun and exciting this year.

LCM and Vidor completed the Orange County teams in the playoffs with their spots in the 4A tournament. Magnolia ended LCM’s run in the area finalist round. The Bears went 20-9 overall, and posted a 10-4 district record last year. The Bears were young, and most people were writing them off to not make the playoffs. Coach Griff knew better and rallied his team for another successful year. LCM returns a big portion of their team.

Returning for the Bears will be Jonathan Allen, Kody Smith, Scott Vaughn, Hunter Gonzales, Alex Blem, Ryan Waddell, Kevin Adams, Casey Burleigh, and Ryan Carline. Add Reid Fults, Brylon Douglas, who also saw playing time last year, and Zach Drouillard, who came over from WOS, and the Bears will be ready to compete in the always tough 20-4A district again.

The Crosby Cougars ended Vidor’s season in the bi-district round of the playoffs. The Pirates posted a 19-7 overall record, with a 10-4 district record. Vidor returns Matt Peno, Hunter Hagler, Joe Mojica, Bubba Maxwell, Randall Robertson, Jonathan Neal, Jordan Olbrich, Tyler Kennon, Colby Sciarella, and Cary Hester.

Along with Nederland, Port Neches-Groves, Lumberton, Livingston, Ozen and Central, district 20-4A is always fun and competitive. Four teams advance into the playoffs, and I see the two Orange County teams making it.

Mother Nature is making it hard for our teams to get in some work, but with the tournaments and good weather around the corner, it won’t be long before we will be watching some good High School baseball. Come on out to the ball parks and support your favorite team.

Details of the scrimmages played this week will be in next went addition of Hometown Baseball. See you at the park.