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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

What a week for the Marble Falls Mustangs. It began with a second place finish at the Division 2 state meet March 24 for Xavier Lopez and ended with a pair of district titles in golf and tennis. And by 10 p.m. March 31, another Marble Falls team was tied for first in district play.

  1. That would be the Mustangs baseball team (5-2) thanks to an 18-8 run-rule win over Lampasas to win the series. Marble Falls bounced back from an 8-6 loss to the Badgers March 28 where four Mustang errors accounted for six Lampasas runs. While the Mustangs still had three errors during the March 31 win, they didn’t allow the mistakes to dictate how the game was played and who won it. And that’s the sign of a mature team. It also helps when one player has 5 RBIs off 4 hits and touched the plate four times himself. Evan Nickowski was the Mustangs’ lead-off batter and embraced the role by getting to base four times and bringing in runs when teammates needed a hit. It doesn’t get easier for the Mustangs as they travel to face Georgetown Gateway Tuesday, April 4, before hosting the Gators Thursday, April 6. Both games are at 7 p.m. Gateway (3-4) beat Lago Vista 6-3 to take the series win
  2. The other baseball team tied for first in District 24-4A with Marble Falls is the Burnet Bulldogs (5-2) after losing to Jarrell 8-4 March 31 and 8-5 March 28 that allowed the Cougars to win the series. The losses are the Bulldogs’ first and second in district play. Jarrell scored one run in the first inning, two in the second, and five in the third for the victory. The path doesn’t get easier for the Bulldogs as they travel to Lampasas (2-5) Tuesday, April 4, and then host the Badgers Thursday, April 6. First pitch for both is at 7 p.m. The Badgers used four pitchers during the March 31 loss to Marble Falls.
  3. The Burnet Lady Dawgs softball team nabbed a 14-0 win against Marble Falls March 31 to finish the first round of District 24-4A play with a 5-0 record. The Lady Dawgs made every routine play and looked sharp. Meanwhile the Lady Mustangs, after giving up nine runs the first inning, settled down and made Burnet earn the run-rule win. Burnet looked like a program that’s had the same coach — Marble Falls graduate Hailey Wooten — at the helm for four years complete with experienced athletes used to playing on the varsity level. Marble Falls looked like a program that was still finding its footing, learning its tendencies and finding ways to be successful. Needless to say, Burnet fans are excited about their team and should be. With wins at Lampasas and Jarrell, two teams expected to contend for a district crown, the Lady Dawgs can now turn their attention to two important road games: at Georgetown Gateway at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, and at Lago Vista at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6. The loss to Gateway in the second round of district play in 2022 came back to haunt the Lady Dawgs as the two teams played a third time for the final postseason berth that the Lady Gators won. Needless to say, this is an important week for Burnet.
  4. Another Highland Lakes softball team had an important week that included two wins. The Llano Lady Jackets went to Brady and earned a 10-0 win in a contest that ended after five innings and then returned home to beat Blanco 9-3 to begin the second round of district play for the second in the District 5-3A standings. After two innings, the two were tied at 1-1, then the Lady Panthers plated two in the fifth for a 3-1 lead. And that’s when the Lady Jackets came to life, scoring five runs in their half of the inning and adding three more in the six to put the game away. Senior pitcher Madison Kloepper allowed two earned runs off four hits and struck out five in seven innings. Next up is a rematch with Comfort (5-1) led by pitcher Emma Wardlaw. The Doe won the first contest 7-5 in eight innings March 13, during an afternoon game on the first day of Spring Break. This time the contest will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, April 3.
  5. The Llano Yellow Jacket baseball team also is second in the district standings after taking care of Blanco 6-3 March 31 and Brady 3-2 March 28. The win against the Bulldogs was especially impressive given they had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning before Llano senior pitcher Jackson Dillard struck out two batters to end the threat and then had two more strikeouts in the seventh for the save. What an outstanding performance by Dillard, who’s simply a gamer. Few players relish the opportunity to shine in the biggest moments. But Dillard did that as a receiver on the football team and now as a member of the baseball team. The Jackets travel to play at Comfort Monday, April 3, before hosting Ingram Thursday, April 6, in a rematch of the 1-0 Warriors win to begin district play. Both games start at 7 p.m.
  6. The high school soccer season has ended in the Highland Lakes after both the Burnet Lady Dawgs and the Marble Falls Mustangs lost to Boerne High. We’ll start with the girls. The Lady Hounds took a 2-1 lead at the half and each team scored a goal in the second half. With the loss, one of the most successful runs in program history ends: a district title, a bi-district championship and a win in area to equal the number of trophies won by the 2022 Lady Dawgs. But this year’s team won a district championship. In short, they played like the champions they are in earning a 26-3 overall record and a 12-0 undefeated district title. While the season ended quicker than they wanted, they played to the school’s motto of spirit, pride and honor.
  7. The same can be said of the Marble Falls Mustangs, who lost to the Greyhounds 2-1. The district co-champions were one win shy of reaching a regional tournament for only the second time in history and played like the established program that was the overwhelming favorite to win the district title. But the ending of this season may be remembered more for what happened during the 4-0 win against Uvalde in the area playoff win March 28. In that contest, one Mustang was issued a red card, which meant he wasn’t allowed to play against Boerne. That area contest was frustrating to watch for Marble Falls fans because of how it was officiated with most believing the Mustangs were at least seven goals better. But the ending can’t take away the greatness of this squad and all these players have done to earn the incredible wins and fantastic moments that provide memories for a lifetime.
  8. And now for those district championships. Let’s start with tennis since both Burnet and Marble Falls earned district titles. The Burnet girls doubles team of Tatum Salinas and Aly Van Zandt is the district champion and the Burnet mixed doubles team of Christina Graves and Cameron Stires is the district runner-up. Marble Falls freshman Cooper Womack won the boys singles district crown in a match that lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes. Womack’s No. 1 trait? His ability to outlast and frustrate his opponent, and that’s something that can’t be coached. Players either are willing to do what it takes to succeed or they’re not. And Womack does what it takes to win. Congrats to all the regional qualifiers.
  9. The other district champion was Marble Falls golfer Madison Deberard, while Burnet’s Avery Gowin is the district runner-up. Deberard wasn’t seriously challenged for first place, shooting an 81-82–163 for the win. Meanwhile, Gowin and teammate Cambria Neenan gave onlookers a thrilling finish with each shooting a two-round total of 206. That meant they had to play each other in a sudden death play-off to determine who advanced to regionals. They played the 18th hole very well, according to head coach Rick Gates, with Gowin winning the par five with a 10-foot putt for par. We’ll see if the boys can match the girls when they play in the district tournament Monday-Tuesday, April 3-4.
  10. Many people have asked about what’s happening in offseason football. I can report the Burnet Bulldogs are a driven bunch, especially given the ending of their 2022 season in a contest where missed extra points and two-point plays gave Taylor a path to win the game and advance to the playoffs. And when I say driven, I mean the players are leading the workouts thanks to a group of juniors used to winning. When a group is this hungry for success, it’s best to step aside and let them work. I’m also told the Marble Falls Mustangs returned from Spring Break with a sense of urgency in attacking the weight room and the rest of the offseason drills in preparation for the 2023 season. And all of this should thrill Burnet County.

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