Category: Wylie Bulldogs

COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Wylie Bulldogs

Football is just around the corner, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Saturday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 2, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2021 as part of our annual “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

Today, we move to Class 5A Division II with the Wylie Bulldogs. On Saturday, we will take a look at the Cooper Cougars, followed by the Abilene High Eagles on Sunday.

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GAME STORY: Aledo pulls away late to take Game 2, ends successful Wylie season in I-5A semis

Needing a win to extend its Region I-5A semifinal series against Aledo and keep its season alive, the Wylie baseball team couldn’t solve the Bearcat pitching duo of Carter Sands and Creed Willems, mustering just five hits in a 6-1 loss Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field.

The Bulldogs, who dropped a 6-5 thriller in nine innings in Thursday’s series opener, found themselves right in the game heading into the late innings in Game 2 as well.

But trailing by a run after Jaxon Hansen singled home Grayson Bearden in the bottom of the fifth to cut a 2-0 deficit in half, Wylie saw Aledo pull away with a pair of two-run innings in its final two at-bats.

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GAME STORY: Wylie rallies but drops nine-inning thriller to Aledo in Game 1

CLEBURNE — In a Region I-5A semifinal series opener marked by upwards of a dozen potential tell-tale moments, two bouncing balls ultimately sealed the deal in Aledo’s nail-biting, 6-5, nine-inning win over Wylie on Thursday evening.

The first, which denied the Bulldogs a chance to gain the upper hand in the best-of-three series, came off the bat of Wylie catcher Landon Williams in the seventh inning. The game was tied 5-5, and Williams was hitting with two outs and teammate Riley Hood leading off from first base after being hit by a pitch.

The junior backstop blasted a line drive to deep left field, which would have easily scored Hood — save for fact that it bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. That left Hood at third and Williams at second, and the Bulldogs couldn’t bring either home.

The second, and deciding hop, occurred two innings later. With two outs in the bottom half of the inning and a runner on first, Bearcat right fielder Zach Harrison hit a soft popup some 130 feet from home plate toward the first base line. Had it gone 131, Wylie right fielder Grayson Beardon might have been able to catch it. Instead, his dive came up just short, and the ball caromed off his glove away from second baseman JT Thompson, who was also in hot pursuit — just far enough for Aledo’s Parker Stegall to race around the bases and beat Thompson’s throw by a few feet.

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FEATURE: Wylie junior Williams a difference-maker behind the plate

If you were to create a composite based on all of the qualities you look for in a catcher, the final result might look a lot like Wylie’s Landon Williams.

  • Good receiving skills? Check.
  • Blocks balls in the dirt well? Check.
  • A strong arm to control the running game? Check.
  • Works well with a pitching staff and calls a good game? Check.
  • Capable of contributing at the plate? Check.

Williams, a junior who is already committed to play Division I baseball for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, is not only capable of doing all of these things, but he can do them at a high level. And he has done so consistently this season in helping coach Grant Martin’s Bulldogs to the Region I-5A semifinals, where they’ll take on Aledo this week, starting with Game 1 at 5 p.m. Thursday at The Depot in Cleburne.

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GAME STORY: Wylie eliminates Randall, 17-7, to advance to Region I-5A semifinals

LUBBOCK — With a steady 20-mph wind blowing directly to left field Friday at Lubbock Cooper’s First United Park, Mother Nature had set a powder keg directly in the path of Wylie and Canyon Randall for Game 2 of their Region I-5A quarterfinal.

And it didn’t take long for someone to light it. 

Through a combined 34 hits between the two clubs, 11 extra-base hits and two home runs, Wylie got the better of Randall, closing the game and the series with a 17-7 run-rule win in five innings.

Cooper Hrbacek was 4 for 4 with a triple and four RBIs, JT Thompson was 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs, and Riley Hood was 4 for 5 with two RBIs to lead Wylie (25-80), which advances to face either Aledo or Mansfield Timberview in the regional semifinals next week. 

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FEATURE: Fearless Wylie senior Valentine a catalyst from his shortstop, leadoff roles

As the quarterback for the Wylie football team in the fall, senior Balin Valentine is no stranger to the spotlight or being leaned on to produce in its glow.

So the transition from the football field to the baseball diamond, where he occupies high-profile roles as the Bulldogs’ shortstop and leadoff man, is a remarkably natural one for him.

A catalyst for the Bulldogs in all of his various capacities, Valentine enjoys those pressure-packed situations that might cause others to shrink. And given the success he’s found in them, it’s not hard to see why.

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GAME STORY: Wylie forces rubber match but falls in three to Lubbock Monterey

HERMLEIGH — Facing elimination for the first time this postseason after dropping Game 1 of their Region I-5A quarterfinals series on Friday, the youthful Wylie softball team made District 4-5A rival and champion Lubbock Monterey sweat on the series’ second day.

But after downing the Lady Plainsmen 9-5 in Game 2 on Saturday to extend the series to a deciding third game, the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t solve pitcher Brenna Straughan or slow a barrage of seeing-eye hits in 9-3 loss in Game 3.

A Minely Avila home run pulled coach Heather Collier’s team within two runs (5-3) in the fourth inning of the rubber match, but Monterey responded with four runs in the fifth to regain control and eventually end the Lady Bulldogs’ season at 22-14.

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GAME STORY: Walks, early grand slam fuel Monterey past Wylie in Game 1

HERMLEIGH — A tight strike zone and a heavy, outward-blowing wind all but ensured a high-scoring game in the opener of the Wylie softball team’s Region I-5A quarterfinals series against Lubbock Monterey on Friday. In the end, the Lady Plainsmen took better advantage of both in a 10-5 win at the Hermleigh softball field.

Monterey was outhit by Wylie 7-6 and committed five errors to the Lady Bulldogs’ three. But the Lady Plainsmen drew twice as many walks (6) and used a pair of early home runs to build a 5-1 lead that they would stretch to 9-1 before WHS tried to fight its way back into the game late.

Wylie continued to battle throughout, pulling within four (9-5) with a four-run fourth inning. But the Lady Bulldogs (21-13) saw a number of hard-hit balls find gloves from that point forward, allowing Monterey to hold on for the win and take a 1-0 series lead.

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GAME RECAP: Wylie baseball edges EP Andress in single-game area thriller

FORT STOCKTON — The Wylie baseball team is on to the Region I-5A quarterfinals after holding off El Paso Andress in a white-knuckle thriller, edging the Golden Eagles 3-2 in a one-game area-round playoff Friday at the Fort Stockton baseball field.

Leading 2-0 after four innings, The Bulldogs saw the Eagles push across a pair of runs in the fifth to tie things up. But Wylie answered with an RBI triple by Reed Hughes in the bottom half of that inning to go back ahead and kept Andress off the board in the final two frames to preserve the hard-fought win.

The victory improved coach Grant Martin’s team to 23-8 on the year and earned the Bulldogs a region quarterfinals date with the winner of District 2-5A champion Canutillo (17-5-1) and District 3-5A runner-up Canyon Randall (21-14-1), which were set to wrap up their best-of-three area-round series Saturday.

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FEATURE: Wylie seniors motivated to make final run together count

To call the 2021 Wylie baseball team a senior-led squad would be a fairly significant understatement. 

Featuring a 10-player senior class that will send eight to the college ranks next year, the 18th-ranked Bulldogs are blessed with a combination of talent, experience and chemistry that few teams statewide can boast.

But heading into a one-game area-round playoff against El Paso Andress at 4 p.m. Friday in Fort Stockton, coach Grant Martin’s seniors will see all of their history and hopes boiled down to a single game. Win, and they’ll get to add yet another chapter to a story already filled with unique experiences. Lose, and they’ll close the book on their time as teammates.

That reality isn’t lost on this talented group of Bulldogs, who aren’t remotely ready for this ride to be over yet.

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LOCAL SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: Cooper, Wylie sweep area-round series to advance

ODESSA — The Cooper softball team cruised to a Region I-5A area-round sweep over El Paso Chapin on Saturday at the Ratliff Softball Complex, following Friday’s 15-5 victory in the series opener with a 9-2 win in Game 2.

Leading 3-2 after an inning, the Lady Cougars scored the final six runs to advance to the Region I-5A quarterfinals next week.

CHS had six home runs among its 13 hits, providing ample support for pitcher Summer Simmons, who relieved starter Jahlissah Marquez in the first inning and went the distance for the win.

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STATE TRACK ROUNDUP (Day 2): Vancleave wins discus state title at the last possible moment

How many of you once dreamed of hitting a game-winning homerun or shooting the game-winning shot to win a championship?

Hamlin senior Jenna Vancleave experienced the track and field equivalent of the same dream on Friday in Austin, only she had an even greater sense of urgency.

Not only did Vancleave win the girls 2A discus state title on the final throw of the competition at the state meet, but she did it on what she knew would be the final throw of her career. Her performance shares the spotlight with Wylie’s Kylor Aguilar, who took gold in the boys 5A pole vault. 

“I just came in hoping for the best,” Vancleave said. “It was all in God’s hands.

“I was very nervous. My stomach hurt so bad, but my coaches talked to me and calmed me down. They were like, ‘You’ve just got to throw. Let it loose and relax.’ So I took that advice and and apparently it worked.” 

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SERIES RECAP: Albus, Gay pitch Wylie past Plainview in bi-district sweep

LAMESA — The Wylie baseball team made quick work of Plainview in its best-of-three Region I-5A bi-district series on Friday, sweeping their first-round foe 9-1 and 5-1 behind a pair of strong starts.

Dash Albus held the PHS to one unearned run over 6.1 innings in Game 1, allowing just four hits and two walks, while Brooks Gay tossed a complete game in Game 2, limiting the Bulldogs to one run on five hits and one walk. The co-aces combined for nine strikeouts.

With the victories, Wylie (22-8) will now advance to the area round of the Class 5A playoffs, where it will take on the winner of El Paso Andress (22-5) and El Paso Del Valle (14-8), which split the first two games of their bi-district series. 

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LOCAL SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: Farrar tosses another gem, Wylie blasts El Dorado in series opener

ANDREWS — It wasn’t quite the no-hitter she pitched in the opener of Wylie’s Region I-5A bi-district series against Amarillo High last week, but Reese Farrar was on her game again Friday in pitching the Lady Bulldogs to an 11-0 win over El Paso El Dorado in the first game of a best-of-three area-round series.

The sophomore right-hander allowed two hits and two walks over five shutout innings, striking out five opposing batters in the process, and her lineup staked her to a six-run lead by the bottom of the second inning, giving her far more run support than she would need to secure the victory.

Fueled by a five-run second and a four-run fourth, the Lady Bulldogs were able to close the game out in five innings, putting themselves in position to sweep the series when it resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday with Game 2. Should a third game be necessary, it will be played 30 minutes after Game 2 in Andrews.

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EVAN REN: Handicapping the boys state track meet.

Having already released our picks for the girls state track meet earlier this evening, we now present the boys event, using the same approach. 

We’ll comb through each event involving a Big Country athlete (or athletes) and assess if they are favorites, dark horses or long shots to get on the medal stand. 

Let’s not waste any time. Let’s dive in. 

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EVAN REN: Picking the favorites, dark horses and longshots at the girls state track meet

I don’t care who you are — even if you’re a non-fan when it comes to track and field. 

The excitement of the state meet in Austin will capture your attention if you catch sight or sound of it. It’s inescapable. 

And once per year, it is my pleasure to examine the multitude of Big Country athletes heading to Austin for the event and pick who we can expect to see on the medal stand from our area. 

Let’s begin with the girls side, looking at each event in which a Big Country athlete has qualified for state. 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie’s Farrar pitches her way to honor

As a sophomore in her first playoff action, leading a fourth-place team against a district champion, no one would have blamed Wylie pitcher Reese Farrar for having jitters in the opener of her team’s Region I-5A bi-district series against District 3-5A champ Amarillo High.

If she did, she did a darn good job of hiding it.

All the right-hander did was pitch a six-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 10-0 victory in Game 1 and set the tone for a big series sweep, earning our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week honor in the process.

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FEATURE: Wylie’s Aguilar perseveres through injuries to break vaulting records

Two-plus years of effectively handling adversity and injuries paid off in a big way for Wylie senior Kylor Aguilar at the recent Region I-5A track and field meet.

Completely healthy for the first time since his freshman season in 2018, Aguilar cleared 16 feet, 3 inches on April 23 in Lubbock. His vault broke the Region I-5A meet record, the Wylie school record and Aguilar’s personal record.

“To be honest, no, I didn’t sense something like that was going to happen,” Aguilar said of his record-setting day. “There was supposed to be some bad crosswinds, so going in, I was just trying to qualify for state.”

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LOCAL SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: Cooper pounds three more home runs in 11-6 win, sweeps Caprock

WOODROW — The Cooper softball team followed up Friday’s 19-5 win over Amarillo Caprock with a 11-6 victory in Game 2 on Saturday to sweep its Region I-5A bi-district series with the Lady Horns and earn an area-round date with District 1-5A champion El Paso Chapin.

The Lady Cougars, who pounded five home runs in Game 1, hit three more on Saturday, finishing with 15 total hits as they improved to 21-8 on the season.

Cooper scored four runs in the first inning and six in the third to go ahead 10-0, before Caprock tried to chip away at the lead over the final four innings.

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