High School Baseball

Tigers on a mission to redeem lost season

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 3/16/21

Katy High’s baseball team is hungry—desperate, even—to make up for lost time.

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High School Baseball

Tigers on a mission to redeem lost season

Posted

Katy High’s baseball team is hungry—desperate, even—to make up for lost time.

When the pandemic abruptly canceled the 2020 high school baseball season around this time last year, the Tigers were 13-3-2, complete with strong pitching, timely hitting and boasting a sky-high ceiling. But all of that came to a crashing halt, and this year’s Tigers are adamant to pick up where they left off.

So far, Katy has done just that, off to a 14-3-0 start, including 2-0 in District 19-6A play, following a 6-2 win over Cinco Ranch on Tuesday, March 16. The Tigers’ three losses have each come by one run, and six of their wins have been run-rule decisions.

“All of them are hungry to play again,” said coach Tom McPherson, who returns seven starters from last year’s team. “That’s the main thing. High school baseball is different than select ball or anything else. The camaraderie and being together means a lot. We’ve got a good number of seniors excited to show what they can do.”

The Tigers have a pair of NCAA Division I signees in pitcher Caleb Matthews (Rice) and catcher Jack Johnson (Youngstown State), but they have many other capable players eager to earn their own opportunity at the next level. That includes seniors Ryan Brome, who leads the team in home runs with five, and Aiden Huerta, and juniors Ryan George and Johnattan Ferrebus.

“Last year made us start working harder,” Brome said. “There are a lot of guys that are not committed (to playing college baseball) and really talented players that aren’t where they need to be yet, so we’re really hungry. We’re fighting out there.”

Those players were on display against Cinco Ranch.

Brome went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks. Huerta produced his own highlight show with his defensive play at third base. George was exceptional defensively in right field and added a hit and RBI.

All played a role in helping Matthews, who is working his way back from a car accident a month ago. Matthews, whom McPherson said still has back issues from the accident, was not up to his usual standards, but was coolly efficient with one run earned on two hits to go with four strikeouts and three walks in six innings of work.

“We know a couple of their hitters. We’ve played with some of them,” said Matthews, who improved to 4-0. “We work out at some of the same places. We know their tactics. I just tried to pound the strike zone, get ahead of the count. My defense played a great game and made a lot of plays. We went right at them.”

The right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, relying on a methodical delivery that disrupted hitters’ timing to go along with his typically sharp off-speed repertoire, as the Tigers led 3-0. But Cinco Ranch’s Blake Hansen led off the sixth with a triple. Gavin Rutherford hit into a fielder’s choice when he hit directly to an alert Huerta, who immediately threw to Johnson to prevent a run. Andrew Barker drilled an RBI triple to get the Cougars on the board before Ivan Marquez hit to Huerta, who, again, deftly threw a laser strike to Johnson to prevent another run.

Tyler Duron flew out to end the inning.

“It’s just playing with some consistency,” McPherson said of his team. “Right now, we play good for 2-3 innings and the next 2-3 we just sit. They have to learn to play at a high tempo the entire game, because when they do, they’re pretty good.”

The Tigers added three more insurance runs in the seventh, highlighted by Ferrebus’ RBI double.

“We’re getting runners on and driving them in,” said Brome, whose triple to lead off the seventh set things in motion. “We’re hitting well, situationally. We’re swinging the bat better, top to bottom, and getting a lot of hard-hit balls. That’s definitely been big.”

Katy is a good fastball-hitting team that gets stronger late in games once it figures out a pitcher’s patterns. The Tigers have also been buoyed offensively by newcomers George, Ferrebus and junior shortstop Parker Kidwell.

“Kids like that step up and make us a lot better,” McPherson said.

Matthews said the devastation of last season’s abrupt closure lit a fire under the team. It’s showing.

“Last year, we had a great team, a lot of chemistry,” Matthews said. “This year, we have even more. We’re all brothers and we’re all counting on each other. We had something to prove last year, and this year we’re coming out even stronger.”

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