Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

June 6, 2013

MWHS enjoyed another successful sports year in 2012-13

As I See It ... Tony Eierdam

Mineral Wells Index

— Mineral Wells ISD athletic director Chuck Lawrence said it best last week at the spring sports awards ceremony when he exclaimed that 2012-13 was “the second-best sports year in Mineral Wells High School history.”

Indeed, it was another successful sports year, the third I have covered since taking over as sports editor in November of 2010.

Although the 2011-12 school year was what Lawrence called “the best year in MWHS sports history” because every sport either made the playoffs or sent competitors to the regional level, this year meant more to me.

Why? The reason is that it is my third year here of covering sports, and now that I have been here awhile I know most all of the athletes and all of the coaches so it makes it more personal for me. And more satisfying when the MWHS teams are successful.

The Lady Rams overall had a standout year as all teams made the playoffs, and sports like golf, tennis and cross country sent competitors to regional competition.

The three big team sports – volleyball, basketball and softball – not only reached the playoffs but each team won at least one playoff game or series along the way.

Volleyball set a school mark by advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in school history.

What I remember most about volleyball season was the looks on the girls’ faces and head coach Taylor Eggleston’s face after the Lady Rams defeated Iowa Park for the bi-district championship. Priceless.

I also remember four brutal battles in district against district-champion Kennedale and rival Springtown that was about as good of volleyball you could see at the high school level.

The most surprising team was the Lady Rams basketball team which went three rounds in the playoffs before losing to state finalist Kennedale in the regional quarterfinals.

The Lady Rams just could not solve the Kennedale riddle as they dropped three games – including two district games – to the Lady Kats. I still can’t believe Kennedale did not win state, but that is another story for another time.

But girls’ basketball season was a lot of fun, and the ladies played very well in that playoff loss to Kennedale.

Next year, it will be strange for me not to see Niya Benavides on the home court.

It was a pleasure watching Niya the past three years, but she is just one of many of these seniors athletes I will truly miss.

The Lady Rams softball team joined the volleyball team in making school history. The MWHS softball team won the school’s first area (second round) championship before falling to state-semifinalist Burkburnett in the regional quarterfinals.

But what I will remember most about this softball team was how it never gave up. This team had a lot of resolve, and it proved it in the first round of the playoffs against Graham.

In game one of a best-of-three series, Graham made the Lady Rams look bad in a 10-1 win. Who could come back from that demoralizing loss? And it was the third time this year the Lady Blues had defeated our girls.

But the Lady Rams came back with two close wins the next day at Kessler Field to take the series. That day right there made my year.

But it was also sad for me when the Lady Rams were eliminated. I will truly miss those seniors, particularly Chandler Ortiz and Reagan Patterson, two young ladies I got to know and really enjoy being around.

Three years ago, after I had covered my first Lady Rams softball game, Chandler went out of her way to pull me aside and thank me for being at the game. That is a gesture I will never forget, and last week at the sports awards ceremony I told Chandler how important that was to me. She made me feel like I belong in the community, and that is another reason I like living and working in this town. The kids here are fantastic (pat yourselves on the back, parents).

The boys also enjoyed success as all but one sport made the playoffs or sent athletes to regional competition.

Football was the one sport not to qualify for post-season play, but I call it a successful season now because it gave now junior starting quarterback Caleb Acosta 10 games of much-needed experience. Last year will be beneficial for this year as Acosta is a veteran instead of a rookie.

The season also produced a standout on defense as sophomore linebacker Josh Hardy led the team in tackles. This kid has a nose for the football and has great football instincts. He will also be called on to run the ball in 2013, and having Hardy on the field for the entire game will be a plus for the Rams in 2013.

The Rams basketball team kept its string of playoff appearances alive. I have never covered a MWHS boys basketball team that has failed to reach the playoffs, and I expect the same next season.

Baseball gave us more fun again this season as the Rams were an inning away from a co-district championship and won a bi-district title.

But bad luck with the weather in the second round against Alvarado turned a best-of-three series into a one-game-in-two-days-in-two-locations series that Alvarado narrowly won.

It was a pleasure covering MWHS pitcher extraordinaire Matt “Moose” Tincher in his senior year. I always will wonder how many of his 330 strikeouts in the last three years I personally witnessed.

Mineral Wells may not see a pitcher like this for a long time, and many longtime Rams’ fans have told me he is the best hurler they have ever seen here.

But when I look back at the boys’ season I think of track, and my heart goes out to junior sprinter DaShawn Hicks. If the baseball team thought it had bad luck, just look at Hicks’ string of bad luck.

Hicks had won the 100-meter dash – the benchmark race for speedsters – in every meet he had entered this year, including the competitive and prestigious Texas Relays.

He won the 100 at the regional meet, turning in the fastest time in the state in Class 3A.

But while leading the 200-meter dash later at the regional meet Hicks felt his hamstring pull and he immediately hit the ground to avoid further damage.

Bad luck No. 2 for Hicks came at the state meet, where he was disqualified with a false start, meaning we will never know if his hamstring could have taken one more race this year.

But the good news is that Hicks has next year to win that 100-meter dash at the state meet. I like what his coach, Jackie Harvey, said at the awards ceremony: “Next year,” the highly-respected coach said, “he will win two gold medals at state.” Harvey also feels Hicks will win gold in the 200 at state, and who would argue that?

This season began on the hardwood volleyball court in early August and ended at Pratt Field in late May, and it will be remembered as another successful sports year at MWHS.

Next up for me is summertime and vacation time, but I am also looking forward to the 2013-14 school sports year which I feel will be another banner year for the MWHS teams.