WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Cisco, Adams had lofty goals in 2020

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Coming off an 18-6 season that saw them capture the District 6-3A title, the Cisco Loboes and coach Mark Adams had high hopes heading into the 2020 campaign and were equipped to pursue them. 

That is, until the rug was pulled out from under them by the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown and cancellation of all spring sporting events by the University Interscholastic League as a safety measure. 

In the process, four Cisco seniors — Gibson Hearne, Stanley Callahan, Cam Nichols and Dawson White — have seen their high school athletic careers forever placed on a speculative shelf, with no way to confirm the potential many saw in them.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young Merkel Badgers see progress halted by COVID-19

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Unlike many of the teams asking themselves, “What might have been?” after the University Interscholastic League’s decision to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Merkel baseball squad will feature a very similar roster when play returns next year.

The Badgers lose just one senior, outfielder Hunter Barnes, from this year’s group, which was off to an 7-2-1 start when play was halted.

But for a program on the rise, that was hoping to build on last year’s 9-14 record and bi-district playoff appearance, the effects of this stoppage will still be felt in a major way. Instead of getting to use the District 5-3A season to show how much they’ve grown and the playoffs to take the next step in their development, the Badgers will be spending their spring and summer at home, hoping the lost time won’t have cost them too much when they finally get back on the field next year.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Was this the best Eastland softball team ever? We will never know

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

For four years, Eastland softball coach Tera Davis has been quietly cultivating a powerhouse.

This year was to be the culmination of her hard work, with a roster loaded with talented seniors and one of the top pitchers in the Big Country, coming off a 29-6 season that saw them reach the Region I-3A quarterfinals.

If Eastland softball was ever to go to the state tournament, 2020 in the minds of many, would have represented the best opportunity the Lady Mavericks had seen in decades. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hawley powerlifters see state meet dreams unfulfilled

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Hawley’s powerlifting program produces state champions seemingly every year.

While nothing is ever guaranteed in the sport, juniors Kolter Willeford and Bo Thompson were ready for their chance to continue the Bearcats’ winning tradition.

Thompson had won the 275-pound weight class at regionals by 125 pounds after totaling 1,675 pounds in his three lifts. Willeford’s super heavyweight total of 1,775 pounds included an 800-pound squat and was 150 clear of second place.

But their dreams of gold will have to wait another year after the Texas High School Powerlifting Association’s state meet was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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BCP Podcast No. 91: Winters AD Matt McCarty chats with Evan, Daniel

Winters football coach and athletic director Matt McCarty has worked hard the past few years to build the Blizzards football team and WHS athletic program as a whole into a Big Country contender.

On Tuesday, he joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to talk about how he’s handling the COVID-19 shutdown and how this global pandemic has impacted his athletes and his program. 

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Baird’s top-ranked vaulters will have other opportunities

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Baird’s Rylan Rogers and Carsann Baker were the top-ranked pole vaulters in Class 1A through mid-March. Even though both had visions of winning a state championship in May, they figure to have other opportunities after spring sports were canceled this year.

Rogers, a Baird senior, plans to vault collegiately for McMurry’s NCAA Division III track and field program. Baker, a junior, hopes for a normal 2021 track and field season at Baird High School.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Stamford’s Gutierrez was expected to become Big Country ace

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

At age 15, virtually ever key stat produced by Stamford sophomore pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez exhibits potential. 

While most Division I college pitchers are pegging the radar gun between 64-68 mph, Gutierrez has already topped out at 67 before her third year of high school. While many high school pitchers would be happy to strikeout 382 batters in their varsity career, Gutierrez did it in a single season — as a freshman. And while many coaches would be content to have a pitcher with an ERA under 3.00, Gutierrez charted a 1.51 last season, and was at 0.69 this year before the University Interscholastic League cancelled all spring sports last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With a career varsity record of 30-2, Gutierrez was, in the view of many, the top pitching prospect in the Big Country at the time of the shutdown. This season, if all went well, was to be the year every softball fan in the Big Country would learn exactly who she is. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Haskell coach, son have final baseball season together cut short

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

When Kevin Compton took the head baseball coach position in Haskell four years ago, it was for one specific purpose: to coach his son Koby through high school.

Kevin had been coaching in Waco before that, and moving to Haskell would give him an opportunity to get closer to his son both literally and figuratively.

So to see that experience — and his son’s senior season — cut short by the COVID-19 crisis has brought an extra wave of emotions for the father and son in addition to those felt as coach and player. And now that the 2020 season has officially been canceled by the University Interscholastic League, a decision that came down on Friday, both Kevin and Koby are having to come to grips with the fact that their time in matching uniforms is over. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 shutdown adds to whirlwind school year for Wylie’s Martin

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

When taking on a new job with new responsibilities, it’s natural to expect the unexpected.

But new Wylie football coach and athletic director Clay Martin couldn’t have possibly imagined how his first few months on the job would go.

Hired to replace his longtime boss Hugh Sandifer on Jan. 31, Martin saw his crash course in athletic directing come to a grinding halt in March, when the University Interscholastic League first announced that all spring sports action would be suspended as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. That suspension became a cancellation on Friday, effectively ending the spring athletic season and capping a whirlwind school year for Martin.

Instead of holding his first spring football workouts and supporting Wylie’s spring sport coaches and athletes through their seasons, Martin now finds himself in the same situation everyone else does these days — in coronavirus limbo.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Roscoe track joins long list of promising teams crushed by UIL cancellation

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

March 7 was a banner day for Roscoe’s boys track team.

The Plowboys captured gold in all three relays, while Jaythan Coale won the 200 and nearly matched the school record in the pole vault.

After beating bigger schools like Wall and Bangs, Roscoe celebrated its team title from the Bluebonnet Relays by dining at Brownwood barbeque staple Underwood’s before enjoying a jubilant bus ride home.

That would be the last time the Plowboys competed in 2020. While Friday’s UIL announcement officially ended any hopes of spring high school sports occurring, Roscoe coach Ryan Dillon said he told his guys on March 17 their season was all but over.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Gorman’s Madera never got a chance to long jump this year

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Genaro Madera Jr., better known as Jr. Madera around Gorman, was hoping to win a state championship in the long jump this spring and possibly receive an athletic scholarship offer to a smaller university or junior college.

Even though Gorman is a Class 1A school with a high school enrollment of less than 90 students, the coaching staff had helped seven athletes in the last three years earn college athletic scholarships in football, girls’ basketball, baseball, softball and track.

Madera had finished second at the 2019 UIL State Track & Field Meet in the Class 1A boys’ long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 6.75 inches. But the best jump of his junior season had been well over 21 feet.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Bartley’s hopes for Buckaroos dashed with final announcement

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Throughout the statewide COVID-19 interscholastic lockdown, Breckenridge baseball coach Kevin Bartley quietly waited and tried to maintain a positive frame of mind. 

It was important for him to do so, in order for him to convince his players to do the exact same thing. 

Then the other shoe dropped. 

With Friday’s announcement by the University Interscholastic League that all spring sports seasons have been cancelled due to the pandemic, Bartley was faced with the fact that what may have been the best Breckenridge baseball team in 30 years would never have the chance to prove it. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Brady sprinter, netter Marshall takes tough news in stride

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Marshall

Few athletes in the Big Country Preps coverage area had loftier goals for the 2020 spring season than Brady senior Jack Marshall.

A three-event state track meet qualifier and two-time boys singles state champion on the tennis court, Marshall was hoping to end his high school athletic career with a little more gold in his already well-stocked trophy case.

Unfortunately for the future Abilene Christian University sprinter, those hopes were officially dashed on Friday, when the University Interscholastic League announced that all spring activities and state championships would be canceled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. But his response to that news — and the shutdown that preceded it — might surprise you given all he’s lost. 

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BREAKING: UIL cancels the remainder of spring sports seasons

The official notice, released by the UIL on Friday: 

With the announcement from Governor Greg Abbott that all Texas schools are to remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of this school year, and in an effort to help protect the health and safety of Texans, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is canceling all remaining 2019-2020 spring activities and state championships.

“Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-2021 school year.”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: C-City, Kern had banner season interrupted

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Coming off a freshman season that saw her earn first-team All-Big Country Preps honors, Colorado City’s Mallory Kern was expected to earn a considerable amount of the area spotlight in 2020. 

And she was well on her way to doing it — helping the Lady Wolves to a 12-4 start before the COVID-19 lockdown that saw the University Interscholastic League postpone all sanctioned activities indefinitely. But Kern being unable to showcase her ability is just one of the disappointments for a burgeoning team that is now filled with them. 

That has left coach Kara Leleux in the position of trying to get her club to think positively while her players wait out the frustration with every other athlete in the state. 

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BREAKING: 2020 FCA All-Star Festival canceled

The Big Country chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes made the decision on Thursday morning to officially cancel its 2020 All-Star Festival in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is with heavy disappointment due to continued risks and uncertainties associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff has made the difficult decision to cancel the Big Country Chevy Dealers 21st annual FCA All-Star Festival scheduled for the week of June 7-13, 2020,” the organization said in a press release.

There was brief talk of postponing to a later date, but ultimately the organization decided that cancellation was best in the current climate, said FCA Area Director Andy Penney.

Continue reading “BREAKING: 2020 FCA All-Star Festival canceled”

BCP Podcast No. 90: Gordon’s Reed joins Evan and Daniel for second time

Mike Reed is not just one of the most successful six-man coaches in the state. He’s also one of the thoughtful and inspirational leaders in the Big Country.

On Tuesday, Reed joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood to share his thoughts and perspective on the COVID-19 shutdown and what can be learned from it for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hawley was poised for deep playoff run before pandemic

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Despite a modest 5-4 nondistrict record, the Hawley baseball team was positioning itself for another serious run at an elusive UIL state tournament berth. That is, until the coronavirus pandemic suspended UIL sports indefinitely.

The Bearcats last year won playoff series against Miles, Ozona and Stamford before falling 2-1 in a regional semifinal series against New Deal. All three games against New Deal were decided by one run. Hawley ended the season with a 23-13-1 record, which is why veteran coach Jamie Seago wasn’t concerned with the Class 2A Bearcats’ 5-4 start this season.

“Every school we had played was bigger than we are. We hadn’t played any other 2A teams yet,” said Seago, Hawley’s eighth-year coach who had seven returning starters for this season. “Our record is never an indicator of what kind of team we have.

“We’re never going to be that team that’s 36-0. It’s not about the wins and losses to us. If we’re playing well at the end of the season, our overall record doesn’t matter.”

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BREAKING: Wylie honors Sandifer with renaming of stadium

The Wylie ISD school board voted Monday night to rename Bulldog Stadium after former football coach and athletic director Hugh Sandifer.

The stadium, which hosts football and soccer for the school, will now be known as Hugh Sandifer Stadium.

Sandifer, who coached at the school for 41 years, announced his retirement in early January. In his career, he compiled a 285-127-4 record with 27 playoff berths, four state championship game appearances and the 2004 state championship.

Continue reading “BREAKING: Wylie honors Sandifer with renaming of stadium”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Winters girls expected a strong follow up to last year’s breakthrough season

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

After Winters’ softball season came to an end against Haskell last spring, coach Kendra Bryant made her girls write a note to themselves.

Bryant then tucked those notes away inside the base of the bi-district trophy the Lady Blizzards had just captured. It was the program’s first postseason triumph since 2011. 

With every starter returning in 2020, the notes were to serve as reminders that aspirations naturally would be increasing. Bryant’s plan was for the girls to pull the notes out before district began and read over them.

“Last year winning that first playoff game, you would have thought we won state,” Bryant said. “I wanted them to think bigger.”

The notes still sit in the trophy base, never having been unsealed. Winters’ promising softball season, like so many others across the state, is put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 shutdown just latest challenge for AHS ace Salazar

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

While she had been on varsity since she was a freshman and was good enough last year to earn All-Big Country Preps honors as a third baseman, Abilene High senior Aubrianna Salazar considered this to be her year.

Standout pitcher Kaylen Washington, who had led the Lady Eagles to the Region I-6A quarterfinals in 2018 and an undefeated run through District 3-6A in 2019, graduated last spring, handing Salazar the staff ace title in addition to her existing roles at the hot corner and in the middle of the Lady Eagles batting order.

The future Hardin-Simmons Cowgirl had reached her senior year, and it was her time to shine.

But after having her final high school season staggered by a knee injury scare in the offseason and a foot injury that cost her eight games from late February to early March, Salazar could do little but sigh when it was a global pandemic that may have finally landed the knockout blow to her AHS career.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 delay may give Brownwood’s McCarty a chance to compete at state

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

A.J. McCarty was already injured and out of action when COVID-19 stopped UIL spring sports on March 10. He’s also one of the few athletes who could actually benefit from a lengthy delay — if spring sports do return for the 2019-2020 school year.

A four-sport athlete for Brownwood, McCarty was late joining the Lions’ track and field team this spring because he was helping the basketball team win 28 games and advance to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. On March 4 during his first week with the track team, McCarty fell while practicing handoffs for the 4×100-meter relay and suffered a broken wrist.

“We weren’t going full speed, and I ran up on the other guy too quick,” McCarty said. “I got too close to him, and I stepped on his heel. I couldn’t control myself and fell.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Jim Ned softballers, new coach felt Lady Indians were turning corner

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Aside from winning, first-year Jim Ned softball coach Erica Jones is well known for her over-the-top enthusiasm and her efforts to bring her teams into the same mindset.

Most recently, Jones, who has had successful stints at Clyde and Anson that included deep playoff runs at CHS, seemed on the verge of a breakthrough in Tuscola. That is, before the COVID-19 outbreak forced the UIL to suspend all athletic activity statewide.

She is now sitting things out with every other coach in Texas, hoping to hear that an all-clear has been given, allowing her and her players to return to work. But for Jones, who isn’t bashful about wearing her emotions on her sleeve, talking about the effect the crisis is having on her team brings her to tears.

“Once our basketball players came in, all the pieces to the puzzle were in place,” said Jones, who had guided Jim Ned program to a 10-5 mark at the time of the lockdown. “We weren’t very many games in (to the season) but we were rolling.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Clyde’s Deal hoping for chance to end career in fitting fashion

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Clyde senior Christian Deal had been working for this moment his entire career.

After spending his first two years on varsity as a super utility player, the do-it-all standout had finally found himself anchored at his two most natural positions as the Bulldogs’ starting shortstop and de facto pitching ace.

But despite excelling in both roles during a start coach Colby Rowley described as “phenomenal,” Deal has seen what should have been a dream season cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak that now threatens the spring sports season for all Texas athletes. Instead of backing up last year’s all-state season with an even stronger senior campaign, Deal has no choice but to wait out a state-mandated shutdown at home and wonder if his days as a baseball player are over.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Four Coahoma seniors were on quest for redemption

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Coahoma’s softball team has been out for vengeance ever since last May when it lost to Henrietta in the area round for the second straight season.

Senior outfielders Caitlyn Corley, Macee Grant and Sidney Rinard plus second baseman Alex Bailey were tasked with making sure the Bulldogettes stayed hungry in 2020.

The early results had been positive as Coahoma started 15-5-1 before the coronavirus pandemic brought its season to a halt just as District 5-3A action had begun.

Now the Bulldogettes’ four seniors are forced to wait and see if they’ll be able to finish their high school careers on their own terms.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Forsan’s Smith was on the verge of breakout season

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Photos courtesy of  Jodi Mims 

Tucked away in a quiet corner of West Texas, roughly 14 miles southwest of Big Spring, an unheralded Forsan sophomore was poised to make a splash. 

At age 16, Aubrie Smith remains relatively unknown in Big Country circles. But at the time of the COVID-19 lockdown, her 2.64 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 42 innings were beginning to make a sizable blip on the area radar. 

“This year we were better,” coach Shanna Taylor said. “Our record was 12-3-1 and we were beating some bigger schools. And honestly, Aubrie was one of the top pitchers that I’ve seen this season. 

“It was looking like we were going to have a really good year, so this is extremely frustrating for us on all fronts.” 

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BCP Podcast No. 89: Albany’s David Fairchild talks COVID-19 shutdown with Evan, Daniel

After leading his team to state tournament appearances in 2017 and 2019, Albany baseball coach David Fairchild may have had his best squad yet this season. But after starting 7-0, the second-ranked Lions had their season shut down by the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Tuesday, Fairchild joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to talk about this year’s team, how he’s handling the COVID-19 shutdown and what he’s hoping will happen over the next couple of months. 

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Anson sophomore Miller was to spearhead young, improving Tiger squad

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Photos courtesy of Daril Gonzales, Anson Tigers Sports Pics

Anson’s Trevor Miller is a sophomore so the suspension of UIL spring sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t interrupted his final high school season. But baseball is Miller’s only sport so the timing of the stoppage cut just as deep.

“I just play baseball so it’s disappointing. It’s good to have my brother to practice with,” Miller said of his freshman brother, Nick. “He and I throw to each other and take swings. We have a batting cage at home so we can hit in the cage.

“We’re doing all we can to stay in shape and be ready in the hope that we can get back to playing.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: State title-contending Haskell 800 relay team can only hope for the best

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

With a torrent of scary numbers being reported by the media and rumors running rampant on the internet, Haskell girls track coach Missy Burson is doing her best to keep a positive frame of mind during the COVID-19 lock down. 

She would prefer to see her athletes do the same thing. 

But with 379,965 confirmed cases and 11,851 dead in the United States as of this writing, the challenge of remaining upbeat grows on a daily basis. And nowhere in the Haskell girls track program is there a bigger potential loss than with its 800-meter relay team. 

The Haskell quartet of sophomores Tyreonia Amos and Lanayah Green, along with seniors Kara Stout and Kobie Walker had returned after earning bronze at the state meet a year ago. They were considered a strong threat for a Class 2A state title in 2020 prior to the lockdown, and with good reason. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Co-aces West, Neve had Albany poised for state tournament return

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

After leading the Albany baseball program to its second state tournament appearance in a three-year span last season, Lions coach David Fairchild didn’t have to squint too hard to envision a similar run this spring.

The 27-year coaching veteran had graduated just three seniors from last year’s 23-8 squad and was returning a pair of pitching aces in senior Ben West and junior Cade Neve.

Those realities — and the 7-0 start to which they heavily contributed — have only made things more difficult for Fairchild and his Lions since their season was halted in its tracks by the COVID-19 outbreak and the University Interscholastic League’s related decision to suspend all sanctioned activities in mid March.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Merkel’s Pursley sees potential state title put on hold indefinitely

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Kaydi Pursley held the highest of expectations for her final high school track season.

After finishing second in the UIL 3A 100 hurdles in 2019, a state title was on the Merkel senior’s mind. Pursley also wanted to medal in the pole vault, too.

But those goals are in limbo right now with the coronavirus pandemic shuttling UIL athletic activities for at least another month and maybe longer.

Pursley has spent the past couple weeks working on staying in shape. Even if she has represented Merkel for the last time, Pursley knows she must be ready in the fall when she joins Abilene Christian’s track program.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: For Brock’s Tonips and Kizer, more than a game has been taken away

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Kelsi Tonips missed much of last season and part of this season with a separated shoulder. Then just as the Brock senior third baseman and pitcher was working her way back into the lineup, the 2020 softball season was suspended indefinitely by the UIL because of the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic.

The earliest athletic contests can return is May 4. The spring sports seasons may not restart at all.

“Softball is not just a game for me. It’s a big part of my life that was taken away abruptly,” said Tonips, who has played since she was 6 years old.

At least Tonips, who signed to play collegiately with Tyler Junior College, plans to play softball again. Lauren Kizer, a Brock senior pitcher and outfielder, plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in public health. This was going to be her final season of competitive softball.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Wall baseball’s title defense put on hold

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Coming off its first state championship in program history, the Wall baseball team entered this season eager to defend its title.

With eight key seniors graduating off that 39-1 squad, a repeat run through the Class 3A bracket would not be easy, but the Hawks returned a pair of all-state pitchers in Caleb Heuertz and Luke Young and viewed this as more of a reloading job than a rebuild.

Sitting at 9-3-1 on March 12 with the start of District 4-3A play on the horizon, everything was going according to plan for coach Jason Schniers and his players — until, that is, the COVID-19 outbreak and University Interscholastic League’s subsequent shutdown intervened.

In a matter of days, the Hawks went from gearing up for the district season and another strong playoff push to wondering if they’d get to take the field again at all in 2020. And three weeks later, with school suspended indefinitely and the players and coaches separated, little has changed to ease their uncertainty.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Freeman, Comanche softball see breakout season halted by virus

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume.  If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Tucked away in their homes in Comanche County, a group of teenagers and their coach are waiting to see if they’ll have the chance to finish something special. 

The Comanche softball team (15-2), off to its best start since its 2015 state semifinalist club, is sidelined with every other program in Texas by the COVID-19 lockdown until further notice. 

The objective in the Comanche camp is to remain positive. But the numbers aren’t making that easy, with 226,374 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 5,316 deaths at the time of this writing. 

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BCP Podcast No. 88: BCP calls on Dublin coach Bob Cervetto to provide coronavirus pep talk

Throughout his career, Dublin football coach and athletic director Bob Cervetto has earned a reputation as one of the most positive and inspiring coaches in the state.

On Tuesday, Cervetto joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to offer some of that patented positivity and inspiration during these uncertain times brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

BREAKING: Ramsey leaving Merkel for Morton

The Merkel football team will have its third head coach in as many seasons after Brian Ramsey resigned his post on Monday.

Ramsey was then named the athletic director and head coach at Morton, later in the day.

Ramsey tweeted “Wish the Badgers nothing but the best,” on Monday morning. When reached by BigCountryPreps.com on Tuesday evening, he said he had no comment on his departure.

In his lone season at Merkel, the veteran coach went 2-8 after replacing John Cornelius in June. He had previously served as the head coach at Cross Plains (2010-11), Ranger (2013-16) and Electra (2017-18).

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Coaching change shifts Winters’ philosophy

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume.  If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

This was not how Derek Dallas and Brady Keane saw their first season with the Winters baseball team going.

Last year, Dallas was an assistant in Snyder before becoming the head baseball coach for the Blizzards this year. Keane, his assistant, was a sportswriter with the Denton Record-Chronicle covering high school athletics.

The duo spent this season working on reinvigorating the Blizzards baseball team and changing the mentality of the program.

To say that they were successful after 10 games, before the UIL shut down games due to the Coronavirus, would be a gross understatement.

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Evan Ren’s 2020 Gym Rat Team: The hardest workers in the Big Country

Scoring and rebounding is only part of the story when it comes to basketball. Behind the scenes and beyond the view of the public, is where character is often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Gym Rat Team that we salute the individuals who exude the most of it. 

This team isn’t about who the best players are, though some of the area’s top players are on this list. 

The Gym Rat team is about effort, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches love above all else and that championship foundations are built upon.

It is for that reason that our Gym Rat team is selected entirely by area coaches, described in their own words. And Big Country Preps is absolutely honored to present these individuals to you — the best “team players” (boys and girls) that the area had to offer during the 2019-20 season.

Players are listed in no particular order. 

Enjoy.

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All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Superlatives: Brewer, Medina, Lenard head of 2020 class

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our first-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: Second-Team Roster

Here are our second-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Superlatives: Galvin sisters, Gonzales take top spots

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Second team starters and reserves

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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FEATURE: Rotan softball still hoping for a chance to make it to state

Photos courtesy of Greg Decker

The Rotan softball team began the 2020 season looking to complete some unfinished business from last year. Now, the Lady Hammers are just hoping to have a 2020 season.

Rotan was one win away from advancing to the UIL Class 1A state tournament last season, but two one-run losses to Borden County left the Lady Hammers wanting a chance to finish the job this year. They even beat Borden County 7-2 during a tournament earlier this season.

But the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, stopped high school sports in Texas — along with a lot of other normal activities — after the first day of Rotan’s softball tournament March 12-14. Now the UIL has said the earliest high school sports could return is May 4, and some are wondering if it’s even possible to resume spring sports at all after losing seven weeks.

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