FRISCO – Having seen every fall and winter sport being able to complete their respective season without a hitch, Coppell head baseball coach Ryan Howard is relieved to see his Cowboys get a chance to have a full season this time around.
COVID-19 forced the final month of the 2020 spring season to be cancelled, but after health and safety protocols were set in place by the University Interscholastic League prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year, Coppell isn’t worried about a second straight season being halted.
“For the fact that every sport has been able to finish is really reassuring for us,” Howard said. “I think the UIL and administration is doing what they can. They’ve reached out to us to make sure that we get a season. Everything so far has worked out and looks positive for us. We’ve definitely had to do things different and have switched up things in practice to keep our spacing. These adjustments are welcome as long as we get to play.”
Coppell finally returned to the field Thursday for its first two games in almost one year, and the Cowboys came away with a 3-3 tie against Prosper Rock Hill and a 2-0 loss to Frisco Wakeland.
“I don’t think anybody got a lot of sleep (Wednesday) night,” Howard said. “The boys were excited (Thursday) morning. They showed up with a lot of energy.”
Against Rock Hill, Coppell scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning – all with two outs. Senior Will Rodman plated the first run on an RBI single. Fellow senior Tony Vernars crossed home plate on a wild pitch for a 2-0 Cowboy lead. Rodman scored on a double steal for a 3-0 Coppell advantage.
Andrew Nester, a junior, got the start on the mound for Coppell and was in a zone from the get-go. He pitched five scoreless innings, needing just 61 pitches to get through that stretch of play.
“He did everything that he needed to do,” Howard said. “He had a handful of off-speed pitches, but dominated with his fastball and located his fastball well. He did everything that he could to try to win the game for us.”
Rock Hill, a first-year program, drew three straight walks to lead off the bottom of the seventh, helping to forge a tie. Sophomores Zach Fike and Uriah Walters drove home the first two Blue Hawk runs with a pair of RBI singles, while Austin Kalal, a junior, scored on a wild pitch to level the score at 3-3.
Coppell returned to the field a short time later and had a comeback in the works after falling behind 2-0 to Wakeland.
In the top of the seventh, the Cowboys appeared to have plated two runs, but as it turned out, those two tallies didn’t count.
Inclement weather forced the game to be called a short time later, and because the entirety of the inning hadn’t been completed the rule book states that the final score was determined based on the score at the end of the previous inning.
Had it not been for weather, an infield RBI single by Coppell sophomore Bradley Castillo would have counted, which could have led to more runs for the Cowboys.
“I was really proud of the way the guys came back in this game,” Howard said. “The first game had a tough ending for us. The Wakeland starting pitcher was throwing really well. He had a good slider, a good fastball. We tried to give him some problems so that we could get into their bullpen. We had a 3-2 count with two outs and a runner at first base when the game was called. We had the momentum going our way.”
Coppell has been winning ever since.
The Cowboys had little trouble with Little Elm, defeating the Lobos 16-6 in their first of two games played Friday for their first win of 2021. Chayton Krauss went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs. Tate Robbins drove in five runs with two hits. Tim Malone was credited with the win.
Later Friday, Coppell received an outstanding pitching performance from Rodman in an 8-1 win for the Cowboys against McKinney Boyd. Rodman allowed just one run on two hits with six strikeouts in five innings pitched. Krauss and Jeon each went 3 for 4 at the plate to power the Coppell offense. Ryan Walker and Timothy Pompey Jr. each had two hits.
To close out the week, Coppell doubled up Rockwall, 10-5. Krauss had a home run with four RBIs and also was the winning pitcher. Pompey Jr. had two doubles and two RBIs. Jeon hit a triple. Pompey Jr. and Tony Vernars were outstanding in relief of Krauss.
Coppell will lean on several players for experience, including senior catcher/pitcher Jeon, a Purdue pledge, junior infielder Walker Polk (Baylor commit), senior infielder/pitcher Krauss (Grayson College) and senior left fielder Walker (Tyler Junior College).
Howard is also excited about the potential of a pair of sophomores – shortstop Pompey (Texas Tech) and second baseman Tanner Sever.