Hughes Springs Uses Last Season’s Disappointment As Fuel For State Tournament Run
Hughes Springs Mustangs (35-1)
Bangs Dragons (27-8)
4 p.m. Wednesday (June 5), Round Rock's Dell Diamond
How they got here
- Bi-District: bye (16-2A champion)
- Area: def. Grand Saline 11-0 in one-game playoff
- Region II quarterfinals: def. Edgewood 2-0 in series (W 10-7, W 9-2)
- Region II semifinals: def. Grandview 2-1 in series (W 9-2, L 5-3, W 3-0)
- Region II finals: def. Palmer 2-0 in series (W 2-0, W 11-1)
- Bi-District: bye (6-2A champion)
- Area: def. Cisco 2-1 in series (W 3-2, L 9-4, W 6-0)
- Region I quarterfinals: def. Holliday 2-1 in series (W 3-2, L 2-1, W 4-3)
- Region I semifinals: def. Idalou 2-0 in series (W 1-0, W 7-6)
- Region I finals: def. Wall 2-0 in series (W 14-4, W 10-1)
- Zach Bassham, Sr., SS/P (.470, 4 HR, 46 RBI, 15 2B, 34 R)
- Cody Hawkins, Sr., CF (.491, 24 RBI, 9 2B, 53 R)
- Chad McKinney, Jr., C (.460, 38 RBI, 17 2B, 45 R)
- Trent Shelton, Sr., 2B/P (.361, 22 RBI, 45 R)
- Eric Berryhill, Sr., RF/3B (.314, 33 RBI, 35 R)
- Cameron Deal, Sr., 2B/P (.405, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 11 2B, 3 3B, 36 R, 12 SB)
- Aaron Keller, Sr., P/1B (.415, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 30 R)
- J.T. Newton, Jr., C/P (.372, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 10 2B, 4 3B, 50 R, 20 SB)
- Gabe Perez, Sr., LF (.327, 19 RBI, 22 R, 14 SB)
- Chuy Alvarado, Jr., C/1B (.317, 19 RBI, 16 R)
- Dylan Moore, Jr. (16-0, 1.37 ERA, 117 K, 87.0 IP)
- Zach Bassham, Sr. (13-0, 1.53 ERA, 86 K, 77.2 IP)
- Aaron Keller, Sr. (10-0, 1.44 ERA, 110 K, 68.0 IP)
- J.T. Newton, Jr. (7-4, 1.74 ERA, 122 K, 76.1 IP)
- Hughes Springs coach Kent Craig on his team's 35-1 record: "A lot of people ask me that question about records, but to be honest with you, there hasn't been one day at practice where the kids have talked about what their record is. Now as a coaching staff, as soon as we got to 17 or 18 in a row, I had a speech all prepared -- chasing numbers instead of chasing wins. I never had to use it."
- Craig on how his players dealt with their first loss after 32 consecutive wins to begin the season: "The thing about it was kinda crazy. We were losing Game 2 to Grandview (in the regional semifinals), and we had to get on a bus and drive home (after rain suspended play). Then we had to get on a bus and drive back, and the kids had really two days to think about how they'd react to a loss. Our kids were so focused on that bus trip, they were telling us they weren't going to lose Game 2 and us coaches were like, 'they're freaking delusional.' We were down 5-0 with six outs to go, but we darn near (won). We had the tying run on base (in the seventh). Every championship team has a defining moment in their season. Up to that point, what was our defining moment? When we got off the bus in Sunnyvale that day, I told them that today would be the day we would define our season. Today would be the day our character would be tested, and our kids answered the bell. We lost that game, our kids didn't say a word about it. They were like, 'coach, let's not worry about (infield and outfield), let's go play.' And we did."
- Craig on how last season's unexpected loss in the playoffs factored into this year: "I think that factored in some. I think last year showed a chink in the armor that you can lose. I think it helped the kids realize that it didn't matter how many wins you had, all it takes is two losses in the playoffs. It doesn't matter whether you have 28, 24 or 10 wins … it doesn't matter how many wins you have, it only matters how many losses."
- Craig on how Hughes Springs' 2006 state finalist team relates to this year's group: "I really think it helps that, while this is this group's first year down there, they've been around the group that was there before. They're close to those group of kids. Our athletic director was a coach on that team in 2006, Trent Shelton's brother was on that team, Chad McKinney's brother was on that team. There'll be that awe factor when we first get down there, but it helps having the former players and coaches around that have been there before. It comes from inside the community and it comes from inside these kids' homes."
- Craig on his top two starting pitchers -- Dylan Moore and Zach Bassham, who are a combined 29-0 on the season: "They're both just so relentless on the mound. They're always coming at you. (Bassham) has four pitches and he'll give you a first-pitch change-up, a first-pitch slider or a first-pitch curveball. He's constantly coming at you with something. And Dylan comes in there with 85-87 mph with cut and sink. I also think it helps with Dylan being 6-4, 225 pounds coming at you."
- Craig on Wednesday's semifinal opponent, Bangs: "Obviously they're good or they wouldn't be down here. They have two good pitchers. (Aaron Keller) is probably their best pitcher, he's 10-0. And from what I can tell, he's a power guy with a fastball and curveball. He throws strikes, I think he's only walked like 15 guys all year. Offensively, I think they're a momentum team; once they get going, they take off on you. They've got some speed at the top of the lineup and some pop in the middle of the lineup. It's hard to get a lot of information on those Region I teams because they're so far out there."
Did you know?
- Hughes Springs won its first 32 games of the season, losing Game 2 of its regional semifinal series against Grandview, 5-3.
- The Mustangs' only other state tournament appearance was in 2006. Hughes Springs fell to Brock, 7-4, in the 2A state final.
- Hughes Springs has scored at least 10 runs 16 times this season. Its season-high in a game was 20 in a district win over Hooks.
- Kent Craig in his first season as Hughes Springs coach. He took over for current athletic director and head football coach Chris Edwards.
- Bangs has played in 10 one-run games on the season, including six in the playoffs. The Dragons' record in one-run games is 6-4.
- The Dragons' top two starting pitchers -- Aaron Keller and J.T. Newton -- are a combined 8-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings in the playoffs.
- Winner faces Hallettsville or Salado in the 2A state final, noon Thursday (June 5), Round Rock's Dell Diamond.