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EASTLAND — Two years ago as a varsity greenhorn, Eastland pitcher Brynna Foster had a lot of learning to do.
She had the raw talent to pitch. But her velocity and movement had yet to develop fully. Her changeup came on predictable counts, and as a freshman, she still lacked the poise that only maturity can bring.
Yet she was still effective enough to help the Lady Mavericks into postseason play, despite her youthful shortcomings.
Two years later, with improved velocity, and a rise, curve, screwball, drop and changeup that she can deliver on any count, Foster is not only dramatically better, but she’s currently one of the top pitchers in the entire Big Country.
COMANCHE — For four full innings, the Comanche Maidens looked poised to piece together a season sweep of ninth-ranked Eastland on Tuesday, leading the Lady Mavericks 2-0 heading into the fifth.
It didn’t happen.
Plagued by a series of fielding miscues down the stretch, Comanche saw Eastland take the lead for good with three unearned runs over the fifth and sixth frames and escape CHS with a 4-2 win.
For the better part of a decade, the Eastland football team has gained the reputation as a team that won’t hesitate to hurt you through the air.
Though most recently, under former coach Cliff Watkins and current mentor James Morton, the Mavericks have seen a gradual evolution back to a more physical mindset.
Both approaches have been successful, with Eastland reaching the playoffs in nine straight seasons — five of which saw the Mavs chart double-digit wins.
This year, however, may see Eastland rely more on physicality than we’ve seen in the last l0 years, with a large, experienced offensive line running interference for gifted sophomore quarterback Behren Morton (1,031 yards, 10 TDs passing).
If the Eastland Mavericks are to keep their current streak of nine straight playoff berths alive, they’ll have to negotiate a minefield to get there.
A combination of graduation losses and a difficult realignment have placed the Mavs in the unusual position of facing uncertainty.
With a modest 11 of 22 positions occupied by returning starters and only 12 lettermen to choose from, a young Eastland group will need to wade through the new District 3-3A Division I to get a playoff spot.
That’s easier said than done in a league featuring perennial power Wall (12-1), a Breckenridge team expected to be its best in years, and rapidly improving groups from Jim Ned, Clyde and Early.
Like Big Country Preps co-founders Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood, Wichita Falls Time Record News area writer Zach Duncan has been covering high school sports in his market for a long time.
Entering his 15th football season with the Wichita Falls newspaper, Duncan has seen more great games than he can count and worked with some outstanding coaches and players. This week, he took some time to share some his favorite football stories and talk shop with Evan and Daniel.
Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss District 3-3A Division I and District 7-2A Division II — two all-area leagues that should be competitive from top to bottom.