End comes too early for La Porte
By Jason McDaniel
To outsiders, it may appear La Porte had a solid season. It finished second in district to a standout squad in Pearland and won a playoff series.
But for Bulldogs coaches and players, who'd hoped to defend last season's District 22-5A championship and make a much deeper run in the postseason, 2010 was anything but a smashing success.
We knew that Pearland was going to be pretty good this year, and Dobie and Deer Park were going to be very competitive, so defending the title would be a tough task," La Porte coach Ricky Torres said. But we thought we had the team to do it. Certainly our expectations were to be district champs, and our expectations were to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Obviously we fell short. We didn't get the district title like we thought we could, or should have, and we made another early exit in the playoffs."
The end came way too soon with a series sweep to Clements in the Class 5A regional quarterfinals two weeks ago. But Torres had an idea it might be coming after a narrow win in bi-district.
The Bulldogs took on North Shore in the first round after ending the season struggling at the plate in the last three district games. The struggles continued in Game 1, which they won 5-3 despite notching just four hits.
Then their bats completely disappeared in an 8-1 loss in Game 2.
We didn't hit, we didn't play defense, so that added up, and I thought the pressure in the last game was definitely on us," Torres said. Usually the pressure's on the team that's supposed to win and we were supposed to win that series in my opinion."
Fortunately they did, thanks to a great effort on the mound by Hunter Milom and some early offense, wining 7-3.
That was one of those things where you let out some air and say Thank God we got through that,' but we didn't particularly play real well," Torres said.
The Bulldogs were better in the second round against Clements, even drawing on the enthusiasm North Shore played with in the first round as motivation to play harder in all phases of the game.
But still it wasn't enough.
La Porte came back to tie Game 1 4-4 in the seventh only to lose on a three-run home run in the eighth, and then Game 2 was a disaster. The game was postponed two days by rain, and when the players returned they were already wiped out by a busy prom weekend.
We looked like we were dragging (the next Monday)," Torres said. It was 4:30, it was a hot day, and we just didn't muster anything.
We ended up losing 4-0 with three hits."
The loss sent them into the offseason sooner than expected and left Torres evaluating what his players had done and what they might do next season.
The Bulldogs' biggest loss will be Kendrick Perkins, who signed with Texas A&M but could decide to join the professional ranks if he's drafted high enough. But Torres isn't sure that will happen.
The measuring stick is definitely different (for Perkins)," Torres said. The expectations were so high and everybody expected so much out of him that it caught up to him, and that's a tough pill for a senior, a young man, to swallow this early in his baseball career.
Kendrick did hit .421, which was higher than last year, and he stole 17 bases, which was a lot higher than what he had last year, so numbers-wise, when you look at it, you say: Hey, he had a great season.'
But did he reach his full potential? No. Did he fulfill the expectations? No. But that's in the eye of the beholder."
The Bulldogs also will lose catcher Ronnie Newell, first baseman Bradley Brown and designated hitter Dillon Pitts, who was a standout pitcher last year before injuries forced him off the mound.
All three are headed to Galveston College to continue their careers, but the Bulldogs' cupboard won't be completely bare.
They'll return 11 players with varsity experience, including five starters. Milom will be back, along with shortstop Joshua Vidales, pitcher/third baseman Ryan Moye and Matt Cavazos, who's expected to move from second base to catcher.
When the the Bulldogs return for next season, it'll be in a brand new District 21-5A, which will include North Shore, Beaumont West Brook, Port Arthur Memorial, Channelview and Baytown Sterling.
And because they will be in a six-team district, they'll play three games against each opponent, one in the first round and two in one week in the second.
It's definitely going to be a lot of new stuff for us but it's something that we're looking forward to, seeing how we handle the schedule and the travel," Torres said.