Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : March 26, 2015

team pic
By Erik Walsh
Monitor Sports Editor

MABANK–The Mabank Panthers baseball team is looking for some regularity. More than half of the games have been cancelled or rescheduled due to soaking baseball diamonds. Constant rains have turned fields all over East Texas sopping wet, forcing teams to move practice indoors and get more work in at the batting cages.
“This spring has been a huge mess,” Mabank Head Baseball Coach Lane Stahl said. “The field has been bombarded with water.”

The flood of fluids for the last month has done wonders for Cedar Creek Lake, but Stahl says its time to seal the floodgates and get to America’s pastime.

“We have canceled six or seven games already,” he said. “We haven’t had a practice on the field in three weeks or gotten any game-type reps on the field. We are rusty sometimes and it can show. It’s good that the lake is full, but we need to turn the water switch off until June before it starts raining again. Our sub-varsity teams have played only one game. We are trying to reschedule, but with fields underwater it’s tough.”
Stahl says the lack of field time has slowed the Panthers’ progress.

“It can take a few innings to knock the rust off,” he said. The kids have been resilient through it all. We got pumps and buckets to get the water off the field. It’s been tough not having the continuity of a normal practice regiment of hitting, fielding and pitching.”

According to Stahl, the only home game the Panthers played so far this season was on March 16. That game was the only time the Panthers were able to take the field in nearly a month. Stahl even questions the playability of the field that day.

“We really wanted to get out there and play baseball,” he said. “But the players sank with every step they took in the infield grass. Now even the outfield grass is high because we can’t get on it to mow.”
Stahl takes some comfort knowing other teams are working through the same struggles.
“Everyone is going through the same difficulties,” Stahl said. “We hope to finally get some games in this week when we play Crandall (March 25). We are going to try to get out on our home field. If we can’t play here, we will go to Crandall and flip-flop home sites.”

Leaders on this year’s Panthers baseball team include seniors Cody Thompson (pitcher), Ryan Henderson (pitcher), Colt Conway (center field) and Nate Henderson (right field, pitcher). Thompson was an undefeated (5-0) All-District pitcher last year. Mabank is still waiting for another All-District player to return to the line up. Junior catcher Ty Winkelvoss is recovering from an injury he sustained playing football.

“We’re not rushing Ty’s return behind the plate,” Stahl said. “He’s got another year of football and baseball remaining and we’re not going to do anything to put him in jeopardy, especially with wet fields.”
Despite Mabank’s solid upperclassman core, they will also field many young players this season.

Pearson Johanson returns to third base in his sophomore season. He was an All-Distict player as a freshman. Rounding out the starters are short stop Cory Florez, second basemen Trey Neighbors and Patyon Lee and first basemen Dylan Raburn and Tristan Mellorn. Chase Bailey and Dalton Penix will split time behind the plate while Winkelvoss recovers.

The Panthers have targets on their backs, considering they are the defending District Champions. Stahl, however, downplays the importance of last year’s accomplishments and redirects the team attention to this year.

“I try not to compare last year’s team to this one. This is my first year at Mabank and we need to focus on the now and move forward. They have had recent success, but each year is new and we need to earn our place all over again.”

Mabank was picked to finish third in the district 4A-13 this year behind Crandall and Athens.
Stahl coached college baseball for more than 20 years before coming to lead the Panthers. The Dallas/Fort Worth native was coaching a Division III college in Illinois when he realized he needed a change to make more time for family.

“I have always been on the road coaching or recruiting,” he said. “I have children in junior high and intermediate school and haven’t been able to watch them in any activities or sports. Being a high school coach opens up some of my time to be a dad.”

He also came to Mabank for the opportunity to shape young lives.

“High school coaches are in a unique position to be mentors,” he said. “It’s rewarding to see the students make improvements on the field, and in the class room and life. ”



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : March 22, 2015

Sr. Brandon Morgan, So. Gabe Purselley, Fr. Rylan McKlasky
By Erik Walsh
Monitor Sports Editor

CANTON-The Eustace golf team had an outstanding meet at the Van Zandt Country Club in Canton March 16.
Head Coach Adrienne McDonald reports that the team achieved “many personal records, with the best team finish of the year and the strongest field of the year.”

Senior Brandon Morgan led the team with a top 10 finish, shooting a 78. Sophomore Gabe Purselley shot a personal best 94, all while on tough field conditions. Sophomores Brennen Washington and Jude Bonner both also shot a personal best 103 in only their second tournament. Freshman Rylan McKlasky was close behind with a 108.
The Canton Invitational saw improvements for the Lady Bulldog as well. Junior Kristina Woodruff led the way with a 118, while sophomore Sarah Loftis was only one shot behind with a 19, a personal best.

Freshman Bethany McKinness and Jessica Thompson both shot personal bests 122 and 123, respectivly. Thompson shot the 123 in only her second tournament. and Fr. Jessica Thompson had her personal best shooting a 123 in only her second tournament.

“Each week the Bulldog golf teams are getting better and better,” McDonald said. “Both teams have potential of getting a regional spot in a couple weeks at the district tournament. They deserve a congratulations for a job well done.”



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : March 19, 2015

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Sports Editor

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–High School baseball and softball was a washout last week after steady rainfall left sports fields a muddy mess.

The rainfall, which was a welcome respite to local agriculture and lake-goers, filled Cedar Creek Lake to a reported 322.04 feet above Mean Sea Level Monday.

Just three weeks ago, on Feb. 22, the Cedar Creek Lake level was 317.17. Since then, winter storms and steady rains have filled the reservoir with nearly five feet of water.

According to Tarrent Regional Water District, the last time Cedar Creek Lake was full was on March 20, 2012.
More rain is expected in the forecast this week, leaving future baseball and softball outings in question.