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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: The Marble Falls Lady Mustangs and powerlifting head coach Robert Draper stand in front of a banner welcoming them to the 2023 state powerlifting meet in Frisco March 17. Courtesy photo

The final push for championships is upon us with Spring Break behind the Highland Lakes schools. The heat, which isn’t all coming from Mother Nature, is on and will be especially apparent on the pitch and on the diamonds.

  1. Burnet County residents will be at Bulldog Diamonds at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, as the Marble Falls Mustangs head north on U.S. 281 to Burnet in the first showdown between the baseball teams. Both enter the contest with identical 3-0 records in District 24-4A play. The Tuesday starting pitchers have been Marble Falls senior Bryce Atkinson and Burnet sophomore Matthew Valdez. This match-up will be interesting for a number of reasons. The first is because the Bulldogs are averaging more than a run an inning in district play (13-6 against Georgetown Gateway, 10-3 against Lampasas, 13-7 against Jarrell). Marble Falls pitchers have been the more consistent so far and both defenses are making routine plays. The one unknown are the number of free bases issued by the pitchers. During the Marble Falls win against Lampasas, the Badgers drew six walks and were hit by a pitch three times. Burnet’s batters are confident and should be. They have faced the No. 1 pitcher for Lampasas and Jarrell and won. This game has the makings of another memorable Burnet County showdown, but it won’t decide the district championship. The district members will play each other three times this season, and the first round concludes this week. The format changes to a two-game series beginning next week, which means the Mustangs will travel to Lampasas March 28 and host the Badgers March 31. That also means each team must start a pitcher they haven’t seen yet or much of when the format flips. But before teams can move on to the second round, big games must be finished this week. Marble Falls ends the week by welcoming Jarrell Friday, March 25, and Burnet goes to Lago Vista.
  2. The Burnet Lady Dawgs earned a huge win against Gateway in their district opener March 7 where sophomore pitcher Presely Crawford struck out 13 and Maddie Moise accounted for all three Burnet runs. To state it was a contest the Lady Dawgs had circled is an understatement. Gateway ended Burnet’s 2022 season and kept the Lady Dawgs from the playoffs. Right now, Burnet is playing championship-level softball and everyone is advised to look out.
  3. The Marble Falls Lady Mustangs also entered district play and had a 19-1 loss to Jarrell. Jarrell might be the fourth-best team in the district behind Burnet, Gateway and Lampasas. Most Marble Falls softball fans commend the players for their efforts, noting the team has a mix of very experienced players, somewhat experienced players and newcomers to the sport.
  4. While Burnet softball may have the best pitcher in the county, Llano has the best pitching staff in senior Madison Kloepper and junior Skylar Brown. And the two ran into a buzzsaw when welcoming Comfort March 13 for a rare early afternoon game in which the Deer won 7-5 in eight innings. I’m told Comfort took advantage of Llano mistakes on routine defensive plays on a field without shade and a bright sun. And Comfort junior pitcher Emma Wardlaw, who committed to Lamar University, was her steady self as she struck out eight, while Kloepper had eight strikeouts and Brown had nine. With Blanco not as dominant in the circle, the district championship should come down to Llano and Comfort though Florence, which also is 2-0, may have a say. We’ll find out very quickly with Llano going to Ingram Tuesday, March 22, and welcoming Florence Friday, March 25.
  5. The Llano baseball team begins district play at Ingram Tuesday, March 22, also at 7 p.m. With the graduation of last year’s ace pitcher, Maddox Green, the Yellow Jackets have relied on a slew of arms this season. Head coach Todd Doucet says he has plenty of options, and those who know Doucet baseball know he’s creative at using what he has available to best benefit the hurler and the team. All of that will continue to be on full display.
  6. The Faith Academy baseball team is seeking its first district win of the season. The Flames have lost to Central Texas Christian 9-1 and 13-4.
  7. The end of the powerlifting season is here. Only one team had lifters advance to the boys state meet, which is Friday in Abilene. And that team is the Marble Falls Mustangs thanks to Chase Richard, Jasael Ruiz and Xavier Lopez. Head coach Robert Draper said the lifters are driven to perform their best, adding they have been meticulous in their training and remained focus on the task at hand, even during Spring Break. Both Lopez and Richard enter the meet as regional champions of their weight classes, while Ruiz is his weight class’ runner-up. Draper said they’re looking forward to seeing the state’s best and are committed to representing the area in a way that makes us all proud.
  8. The girls completed their state meet Thursday and Friday, March 16-17. And while no one returned home as a state champion, Draper and Llano head coach Richard Kattner each had lifters finish in the top 10 of their weight classes. Let’s start with Llano, which competed in the Class 3A Division I meet March 16: junior Gwyn Burnett was 12th with a 280-pound squat, a 120-pound bench press, and a 395-pound dead lift for a total of 680 pounds; senior Remi Easley was sixth thanks to a 365-pound squat, a 205-pound bench press, and a 370-pound dead lift for a total of 940 pounds; and senior Emily Leach was 10th thanks to a 390-pound squat, a 210-pound bench press, and a 365-pound dead lift for a total of 965 pounds. In the Class 4A Division I meet: Marble Falls’ Kenadi Dalton was 18th with a 240-pound squat, a 115-pound bench press, and a 245-pound dead lift for a total of 600 pounds; Burnet’s Abby Smith was seventh with a 295-pound squat, a 160-pound bench press, and a 290-pound dead lift for a total of 745 pounds; Marble Falls’ Chloe Humphreys was seventh thanks to a 345-pound squat, a 145-pound bench press, and a 330-pound dead lift for a total of 820 pounds; and Burnet’s Maddie Moise finished 11th with a 265-pound squat, a 180-pound bench press, and a 320-pound dead lift for a total of 735 pounds. Coaches are saying the success of their girls teams are enticing others to join next year, which is making them very happy.
  9. The start of the Class 4A soccer playoffs begin in the next few days. Let’s start with the certainties: the Burnet Lady Dawgs, as the District 25-4A champions, will play Comal Canyon Lake at Tiger Stadium in Dripping Springs. The hope was to turn that into a doubleheader with the Burnet Bulldogs, seeded No. 4 from District 25, and the Boerne High Greyhounds, the District 26-4A champs. But no official word has reached me yet. If anyone knows, please put them in the comments.
  10. The other certainty is the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs, as the District 25 runners-up, will face Wimberley with a lot to be determined as far as site, date and time. And that’s because the hope is they will have a doubleheader with the boys. But the Mustangs, as the District 25 No. 1 seed, is awaiting to see who they play from District 26’s fourth-place team. A match between Fredericksburg and Bandera, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, will play a huge role in determining seeds and who the Mustangs face.

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