The Port Arthur News
— Port Neches-Groves got to celebrate a district title early this season. That doesn't mean the Indians have nothing driving them for the end of the schedule.
These Indians want to go undefeated.
In a district as tough as 20-4A, it's a pretty special accomplishment. But, talking to PN-G head coach Mark Brevell, it's easy to see getting to the end of the schedule is about more than just the record.
Brevell constantly talks about how well this team has gelled from a chemistry standpoint. His team is close and plays well together, with contributions coming from up and down the lineup offensively and players picking each other up defensively.
Closing out the schedule undefeated hasn't been easy. The Indians got through four innings on Friday against Vidor before rain cancelled the game, which proved especially unlucky, since the two teams had moved up their game time, even eschewing pre-game routines to try and beat the weather.
Still, the rain came and the game was washed out with PN-G up 5-2. UIL rules state that games cannot be continued at that point and must be restarted, which is what happened on Monday when the Indians won 15-8.
Now, to get that elusive 14-0 mark, PN-G must beat Beaumont Central on the road Friday. After that, it'll be all about seeing how far this team can go in the playoffs.
It's already been a pretty good season for Nederland senior Brett Brown. The right-hander signed to play collegiately with Lamar before the season and moved into the starting rotation as head coach Cody Robbins' Tuesday night starter.
Then, Brown had one of the best all-around games in the area last Wednesday, pitching a no-hitter against Lumberton while striking out 16...and hitting a grand slam for good measure.
But, the really interesting stat that Brown is approaching is his strikeout milestone. The senior has been on a roll this year, striking out double-digit batters in every game he's appeared in except one. He's got 141 strikeouts this season in 11 games and has a chance to get 150 for the season.
What's more, the only time Brown was held under 10 Ks in a game was Monday against Ozen, when the right-hander struck out seven in three innings of relief. Robbins is still considering his option for Friday's regular-season finale at Little Cypress-Mauriceville, but if Brown gets the nod, he has a chance to top 150 Ks before the playoffs.
What would it take for Brown to top 200 strikeouts this season? Well, since he's averaging a little over 12 Ks per game, Brown could get there by hitting his average in four playoff games. That'd put the Bulldogs in the regional semifinals.
For even more perspective, if Brown gets 35 more Ks this season, he'll have more strikeouts than any Houston Astros pitcher had last season in about 80 less innings. Right now, Brown also has about twice the number of strikeouts as Lamar's top pitcher last season did in about 30 less innings. Oh, and that guy was Blake Ford, who got drafted last summer.
There are obvious problems with those comparisons due to competition level, but the numbers are still pretty amazing.
Robbins isn't sure about the school record, but he also couldn't remember any of his very talented stable of pitchers over the season getting to 100 Ks. Whatever the actual record, it's clear Brown is having one heck of a season.
I’ve never talked to him about it, but judging by his results this season, I’d bet Nederland interim softball coach Monte Barrow is a pretty good surfer. You see, he’s managed to ride a wave of momentum from his Lady Bulldogs pretty successfully lately and will hope to win his eighth straight game since being named head coach on Friday.
That’s when the Lady Bulldogs take on Crosby in the bidistrict round of the Class 4A playoffs. The two teams decided on a one-game playoff series with Nederland hosting. That gives the Lady Bulldogs home field for a pivotal game against a tough out.
Crosby may have finished fourth in 19-4A, but they also finished fourth last season when the Lady Cougars went three rounds deep in the playoffs. Don’t expect Nederland to overlook this team, but the home field is also a big bonus for the Lady Bulldogs. Nederland hasn’t lost at home since its first game of district play, a 4-2 loss to Vidor. Since then, the Lady Bulldogs have won six straight, scoring an average 6.8 runs per game and giving up just three runs total in those home games.
The PN-G softball team is also getting ready for a one-game bidistrict series with 19-4A champion Barbers Hill. The Lady Indians won’t be playing at either team’s home ballpark, though, as the game will be on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Hamshire-Fannett.
With the way the Lady Indians had to fight and scratch just to get into the playoffs, don’t expect them to go easily against an undefeated BH team. Brittnee Moore has been pitching well lately and the offense is potent enough to pick her up.
It’s also sort of a bad draw for Barbers Hill, as the strength of 20-4A this season means all four playoff teams were in the state rankings at various times this season. Barbers Hill is currently ranked No. 21 in the state poll, but PN-G is not far behind at No. 24. LC-M tops the area teams at No. 8 while Vidor clocks in at No. 18 and Nederland just missed the top 25 at No. 27.
One part of that team chemistry the Indians have going is their fielding prowess. A big part of that is how well Grant Guidry has done at the hot corner for PN-G.
Guidry did not play third base last season. In fact, he was a middle infielder and went in at second when he did play. However, Brevell knew he had a guy who could man the position in Dylan Saatzer, so he asked Guidry if he felt comfortable playing third.
The answer, for anyone who’s seen him play this season, was a very big, “Yes.” Guidry does a lot of things well at third, but the main thing that catches the eye watching him play is his smooth fielding. He’s transitioned his middle infielder slickness over to third well and shows off a very good arm to keep runners honest.
With Guidry and Daniel Sparrow on the left side, Indian pitchers don’t have to worry about many balls finding the hole over there.
The Bridge City softball team will be opening their playoff series by breaking ranks with the other two softballers already mentioned. See, the Lady Cardinals will be playing a three-game series against Liberty this weekend.
All three games will be played at Beaumont West Brook, with the first game held at 7 p.m. Friday and Game 2 at 5 p.m. Monday, with the third game immediately following if necessary.
Bridge City finished second in 21-3A this season, behind undefeated Silsbee. That means they matched up with No. 2 seed Liberty, who tied Splendora in 22-3A.