Sports

Wildcat baseball team’s depth could yield big things during 2021 season
The Whitney High School varsity baseball team kicked off the 2021 season Tuesday, February 23, in Whitney.
The Wildcats are under new management with head coach Michael Villarreal. The nine-year coach has spent the last three seasons in West, and this is his first opportunity as a head coach.
After a 2020 season that was halted by COVID-19, Villarreal said that it is too early to gauge the effects of missing a season, but he feels that the Wildcats can lean on their senior leadership and depth to gain footing this season.
“The continuity, starting with our five seniors, is definitely there. I may be new to Whitney, but many of these guys have been playing together since little league.”
Senior right hander Nate Callaway is being billed as one of the top pitchers in 17-3A. He also sees time behind the plate and in the infield.
Another senior pitcher that has garnered some attention is Dawson Hightower. When not on the mound, Hightower shores up third base.
Villarreal said that the team is strong up the middle with several configurations that place strong arms in key positions.
“We have some great catchers this year. That makes us pretty tough on the defensive side,” said the coach.
Villarreal said that one configuration puts junior Garrett Peacock behind the plate, which allows Callaway to play shortstop. Add speedster Jaxon Montgomery at center field and the defense looks pretty solid against any offense in Class 3A.
Other seniors on the 2021 roster include Sahmar Mitchell, Levi Whithead and Ethan Clark.
Villarreal said that the Wildcat offensive strength lies in their versatility. With the ability to be aggressive and swing for the fences, the Wildcats can no doubt put some runners across the plate. The offense also has the talent to play small ball and manufacture runs, and that makes Whitney a bit of a headache for opposing pitchers.
“Hit and run or bunt and run, we don’t have to rely on one certain thing to get on the scoreboard,” said the coach.
The Wildcats will need all the weapons and strategies they can muster when district rolls around March 9, against Clifton.
Whitney is joined in District 17-3A by West, Clifton, HSI Waco, Lorena, McGregor, Riesel and Troy.
“In my opinion, this is one of the tougher districts in all of 3A. Troy started the year ranked #4 in the state. Lorena is dropping down from 4A. They have some great arms on the mound, and West, of course, is West. Really, none of these teams in this district can be overlooked,” said Villarreal.
With its offensive and defensive strategies in place, Whitney will rely on juniors Tate Winkler, Jared Ivers and Brandon Aguirre to be the depth.
Sophomores making their varsity debut are Colby Estill, Cade Baker, Kannon Watson and Kaden Auten.
The Wildcats will start the back half of district play on the road in Troy Friday, April 9, and wrap up the regular season in McGregor Friday, April 23.

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