The Mason High School baseball team is facing Holland in a Class 2A bi-district contest at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at Dripping Springs High School.
The Punchers (13-8, 8-4 third place in District 28-2A) is bracing for an opponent that didn’t get the regular season ending it was headed for.
The Hornets (23-6, 14-2 District 27-2A runners-up) were in first place in the district standings until the final week of the regular season.
“They lost their last two games,” Mason head coach Jay Immel said.
Holland lost to Thorndale 9-5 April 22 then suffered a cruel setback to Granger.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Granger’s lead-off batter hits a solo home run for the 11-10 walk-off victory that dropped the Hornets to second place.
“They were a top 15 team all season,” Immel said. “They’re really good at hitting. Everyone can put the ball in play. There are no easy outs. They can all hit the ball well. They defend really well.”
Jose Arzola, Brody Cole, Charlie Butler and Tyler Johnson are providing the Hornets’ offensive power.
The Punchers will counter with pitcher Wyatt Row, who has been consistently good throughout the 2023 season, and a defense that has made numerous routine plays for weeks.
“We’re going to have to throw strikes and play good defense,” the coach said. “We’re going to have put the ball in play.”
Holland’s pitching staff includes Jose Arzola, who had 17 strikeouts during the 9-0 win against Milano in seven complete innings, Johnson, who had six strikeouts during the loss to Granger in 3 2/3 innings, and Cole.
“They have a sophomore, Johnson,” Immel said. “He’s a really solid pitcher. He throws strikes.”
Neither team has played since April 25. While the Hornets are looking to end a two-game losing skid, the Punchers are riding a two-game winning streak after back-to-back run-rule wins against Junction. Mason won the April 24 contest 16-1 and the April 21 game 16-3.
Immel said the extended time away from the diamond was welcome, though the Punchers didn’t take a few days off. Mason’s student enrollment of 229 means athletes participate in multiple sports throughout the school year. It’s not unusual for the same players to compete in golf, track and field, tennis and baseball.
So while almost two weeks elapsed between the end of the regular baseball season and the playoffs, the Punchers participated in Class 2A Region IV tournaments in golf and track and field and the Class 2A tennis state tournament.
“Half of our team has been gone with track, golf or ag,” the coach said.
For those who didn’t have a regional to participate in, they worked on baseball fundamentals in an effort to stay sharp.
“We’ve been working on ourselves,” Immel said. “I think when it comes down to it, they’ll be ready to roll.”
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