Both baseball and softball are ready to begin another season under the current UIL classification and district models.
However, with the Feb. 3 announcement of new look districts for many area teams, some coaches for both sports were able to take a moment and consider what the future holds once the 2020 season ends an the 2020-22 sports cycle kicks off in the fall.
With the new District 22-5A (featuring the three Baytown high schools – Robert E. Lee, Ross. S. Sterling, Goose Creek Memorial – La Porte, Manvel, Friendswood, Santa Fe, Texas City and Galveston Ball and District 21-5A (Barbers Hill, Crosby, Beaumont United, Galena Park, Nederland, Port Arthur-Memorial and Port Neches-Groves) offering new looks, some coaches feel that change could be for the better.
“Realignment day is always an exciting time with all of the speculation leading up to it,” Sterling head coach Adam Shibley said. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by some of the teams in our new district. I definitely didn’t see some of them coming. La Porte is coming with us from our current district and they always pose a strong threat to win it. We’re excited to have our other Goose Creek schools now with us in the same district. That’s always really fun for the kids and the community because they all grew up knowing of each other and competing with or against one another.
Santa Fe is currently entering the year as the #1 team in the state in 5A, I believe. So, they’re obviously extremely talented. Then you add perennial contenders Friendswood, Galveston Ball, and Manvel into the mix, it’s going to be interesting to say the least. It’s going to be a district where there is an impactful matchup happening every game.”
GCM head coach Brian Williams concurs with his fellow Baytown leader.
“We are in a very tough district now and it didn’t get any easier,” Williams said. “LaPorte and Manvel will be very tough and Sterling as well. We still have Santa Fe, Friendswood and Galveston Ball and Lee is getting better. We know that it will be a dogfight every night.”
REL’s David Schmidt enters his second year in charge of the Ganders and will have to negotiate his way through current challenges while looking ahead at future ones.
“I am politely shocked that they put us in a 9-team district with a 7-team district right next to us,” Schmidt said. “I am shocked that Galena Park, which is our neighbor is not in our district, but drive through Baytown to play all their district games. Why are our neighbors, Barbers Hill and Dayton and Crosby are not in our district and have to drive to east Texas for some of their games and we have to drive to Manvel, Santa Fe and Galveston?
“The athletic directors will have a nightmare trying to schedule a 9-team district.”
For programs like Barbers Hill, which is considered one of the region’s gold standards in the sport, the new district will add some needed extra competition after struggling to get tested enough during last year’s run to the Region 3 Final and likely once again this campaign if preseason expectations hold.
“We definitely like having more competition in district play,” Barbers Hill head coach Aaron Fuller said. “Crosby and Galena Park will provide more competition for us and better prepare us for postseason play.”
Sterling High School softball coach D.J. Warner also sees plenty of new challenges on the horizon.
“We got moved into a tough district, but we are used to competing in tough districts,” she said. “Our mindset will be the same like every year no matter who you play. We prepare them for battle every day in practice. We will continue to build our set of standards at RSS.”