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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

Welcome to this weekly column where readers will find a summary of sports across the region and the impressions left on this writer. Watch videos on Highland Lakes sports on Fierro’s YouTube channel by searching for The Broad Podcaster.

  1. While most students have been enjoying the beautiful central Texas weather, others have spent time in the sunshine at ball parks. Perhaps the most fascinating team, to me at least, is Burnet High School baseball (5-4-1, 1-0 District 19-4A). The Bulldogs got what I believe was a gut-check win over Georgetown Gateway 5-4 March 15. The reason for my belief is because the Bulldogs seemed to be at a cross roads following two back-to-back losses at the Blanco Tournament March 12. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if coaches told the players to forget those games completely because of the number of errors committed throughout the day. What isn’t a surprise is that Burnet arrived at Bulldog Diamonds March 15 with a renewed mentality ready to play. And when that was tested (the Gators were three outs away from losing 1-0 before scoring four runs in the seventh), the Bulldogs found a way to notch a slash mark in the victory column they absolutely deserved to win. They’ll get another test at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, against Salado (7-4, 1-0) at home. I believe it’ll be a great game.
  2. One Burnet squad that is no longer surprising people is Burnet High School softball. What can be said about a Lady Dawgs team (16-3, 1-0 District 19-4A) that simply seems to improve every time they take the field? Well, according to people who’ve followed the program, things had been trending toward 2022 for some time. Some believe the hire of Hailey Wooten as the head coach marked one of the rare times Burnet Consolidated Independent School District hired someone who knows the sport inside and out. Let me explain. Wooten is a 2013 Marble Falls High School graduate, and I remember watching her teams compete almost a decade ago (that should also tell you my age). Softball was Wooten’s No. 1 sport and she spent hours getting better at every part long before the first pitch of the season was thrown. And softball continues to be Wooten’s top sport. It also helps that she was an assistant coach on the staff before her promotion, so she got to know the players and their abilities and can relate to them. In short, it’s a pairing that has worked for Burnet CISD, the athletes, the community and the coach herself.
  3. But Wooten would be the first to say a coach is only as good as the players, and the Lady Dawgs have tremendous athletes putting on kelly green softball uniforms. My favorite part of the postgame interview with Wooten following Burnet’s 12-4 win against Jarrell March 15 was when she noted every good play for Burnet empowered the Lady Dawgs and seemed to deflate the opponent. So where do you start? With pitcher Kyleigh Mott’s 12 strikeouts? Or the defensive effort of third baseman Addie Hernandez, who stole two hits with backhanded stabs she threw to first for outs? How about Savannah Gomez going 5 for 5 at the plate? Or Camrynn Guthrie’s two-run homer? Let’s start here — the Lady Dawgs don’t seem to care about individual accomplishments because it’s all about the team goals. And that says plenty about the mentality of the program. Burnet returns to district play at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, against Georgetown Gateway at Bulldog Diamonds.
  4. A day after the Marble Falls baseball team was brilliant against Cedar Park, the Mustangs (4-6, 0-2 District 25-5A) struggled against Georgetown in a 12-0 loss where they committed eight errors March 17. Which is the real Mustangs team? It seems the Mustangs are trying to figure that out, too. An observation from the press box; the players seem to rally behind senior pitcher Hudson McBryde, who is the staff’s ace. I say that because McBryde was on the mound for Marble Falls’ 9-5 win over Burnet earlier this month and again against the Timberwolves March 16 where the Mustangs pushed Cedar Park to the limit and forced them to win 1-0 in extra innings. But McBryde was unavailable against the Eagles. Still, the glaring stat is one that can’t be ignored. Against Cedar Park, Marble Falls didn’t commit an error. That wasn’t the case against Georgetown. Look, there are few teams that can overcome multiple errors in a contest and still win, but that is a very small group. The good news is errors can be addressed by repetition at practices. And don’t be surprised to see Marble Falls play better at Leander at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22.
  5. The Llano baseball team is 6-5 as it continues to play its non-district schedule. The Yellow Jackets have 40 runs on the season and 30 RBIs. The big bat belongs to senior Maddox Green, who has 13 hits and five RBIs. Junior Jackson Rhea isn’t far behind with nine hits, seven RBIs and five runs. As a pitcher, Green has two wins in four appearances where he has struck out 30 and given up five runs off 10 hits. Sophomore K Whitson is 2-1 on the season with 13 strikeouts and given up two earned runs off 11 hits. Even better? Head coach Todd Doucet is developing a pitching staff with seven Jackets serving as starters, middle relievers and closers. And that’s what’s needed to be successful in the sport.
  6. The other Llano team doing well is the softball squad. The Lady Jackets are 10-3 and will begin District 25-3A play against Lago Vista at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, at home. This team is led by sophomore Gwynn Burnett, who has 13 RBIs off 10 hits, including two homers, and has scored 16 runs, and junior Madison Kloepper, who has 15 RBIs off 12 hits, including four homers, and nine runs. Sophomore pitcher Skylar Brown (2-3) leads the team with 30 innings pitched and has given up seven earned runs off 23 hits and struck out 53. Kloepper is considered the team’s ace. She has struck out 38 and given up one earned run off seven hits in 17 innings.
  7. The Burnet girls soccer team is preparing for its bi-district championship match against China Spring, which kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, March 25, at Tiger Field, 600 Lake Road in Belton. Just like the Lady Dawgs athletics department, the Lady Cougars have been tough in every sport this season. Neither the Burnet volleyball or basketball teams faced China Spring in the playoffs. The only reason that’s starred for me is because Burnet got to the regional tournaments in both of those sports. In many ways, the two squads that play on the pitch mirror each other. They both can score multiple goals in every game and are stingy defensively. This one has the makings of what most fans want in the playoffs — teams that bring out the best in each other and force the opponent to earn everything. More will be written on this game next week. Fans can watch the Lady Dawgs at home at 4 p.m. Monday, March 21, against San Angelo Lake View in a warm-up game.
  8. The powerlifting season is ending with four representing Burnet County. Up first is Burnet sophomore Abby Smith, who is competing in the 114-pound division at the girls state meet March 18. Then Marble Falls is sending seniors Enrique Reyes and twins Joe and Jacob Maldonado on Saturday, March 26, to the boys state meet. Both coaches said the four have a chance at earning a medal. We wish all four the very best as they compete and represent the county.
  9. While Burnet has already conducted a couple of signing ceremonies for student-athletes who will compete on a collegiate sports team, Marble Falls has three who will be participating in a signing ceremony with details coming. They are football players Jake Becker to Hardin-Simmons University and Logan Barnes to Texas Lutheran University and Jon “Gouga” Zamarippa to Coastal Bend College.
  10. I’d be lying if I didn’t write how much I’m looking forward to seeing the final weeks of this semester play out beginning with the Texas Relays next week. That’s because Burnet junior Hudson Bennett said he is running the 1,600 meters. As stated before, Bennett is the next great middle-distance runner for Burnet County that dates back to the great Leonel Manzano, a 2004 Marble Falls High School graduate, who won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the 1,500 meters. There’s plenty of wonderful memories still to be made and record. So my thanks to the athletes and coaches of the Highland Lakes for committing themselves to being great.

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