The Aledo Bearcats followed up their 2022 record of 29-12 with a 23-12 record this spring, advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Though the team struggled to find a way to perform consistently early on in district play, they rallied to win five district games in a row in the final two weeks of the regular season to secure the top seed heading into playoffs.
“Most of the time, when they had to answer the bell, they did,” Coach Chad Barry said of the competitiveness of his ball club. “I thought was very successful. We handled our business on the field well. When we needed our pitchers to go out and have big games, for the most part they did that. The way we ended districts on that hot streak, I thought they finished it the right way.”
Just as the Bearcats began to hit their stride late in the year, they faced their toughest tests of the year to close out the regular season. In the series against Azle and Wichita Falls Rider, Aledo outscored the opposition 31-8 as the team had their game firing on all cylinders right when it mattered most.
“I couldn’t be happier for them,” Barry said. “I know the season didn’t end the way they wanted it to. I think they felt like they were going to be right back there in the regional finals again. It shows just how difficult it is to do that. But, as far as their performance, they had a lot of inexperience going in. Sometimes that’s going to cause some inconsistent play. They hit some roadblocks and some speed bumps along their way. They figured out how to work through those and play through them. I thought they did a great job of that.”
While Aledo will graduate a whole host of seniors from this year’s team, Barry feels confident that this group has done what is necessary to pass the torch forward so that the future of Bearcat baseball continues to burn bright.
“I think we’re just scratching the surface,” Barry stated. “I think we’re just going to get better and better as we go along.”
Bearcat shortstop Trace Mazon served the team well as captain during the 2023 spring baseball campaign. So well in fact, that the Weatherford College commit was named Most Valuable Player on the 5-5A All-District Team by the league’s coaches. In the field he committed just two errors all season, giving him a .978 fielding percentage, while turning 11 double plays. At the dish, the right-hander carried a .467 batting average this season. He collected 42 hits, 13 of which went for extra bases. He hit a pair of home runs, drove in 26 runs, scored 32 more, and stole 16 bags around the basepath.
“It’s always a stretch, because you’re asking an 18-year-old kid to do something that he may not be very comfortable with,” Barry said. “I think that’s part of the process of becoming a man. Sometimes you have to take on roles that you’re not the most comfortable with and step up and lead. I thought Trace just did a phenomenal job of that this year. He followed two really great we’ve had two years before that. I think he was mentoring Boyd to take over for next year.”
Mazon’s leadership was infectious. In total, nine Aledo players received all-district honors this season.
Brooks Dwinell, Aledo’s senior left-fielder and Grayson College commit, was named the 5-5A Offensive Player of the Year. He finished the season with a .304 batting average. He collected 21 hits on the season along with 16 RBI and scored 16 runs himself.
Senior right-handed hurler and Hill College commit Matthew Clark was named first-team all-district for his performances on the bump this season. Clark went 7-2 in 45.1 innings of work. He finished the season with 53 strikeouts and a 1.54 ERA. His most notable performance of the season came on April 18 when he struck out 13 Azle batters en route to a two-hit, complete-game shutout.
Andrew Cambre didn’t see the field much this season as he recovered from a shoulder injury sustained prior to the start of the year. However, that didn’t keep him from bringing the lumber to the yard. Filling the role as the Bearcat designated-hitter and clean-up man, the senior Centenary College of Louisiana commit did exactly what he was supposed to do, hitting in the four-hole. Cambre drove in 26 runs this season on 26 hits while batting .299.
The other half of the cleanest middle infield in the district, Boyd Thompson, was named first-team all-district second baseman. As a junior, Thompson flashed the leather in the field, completing 93 of 97 plays in his direction for a .957 fielding percentage this season. Batting in the lead-off spot, he hit .308, scored 30 runs, and drew 20 walks.
The other junior to be awarded first-team honors was outfielder Garrett Rester. While patrolling the outfield, Rester accounted for 32 outs in 35 balls hit to his part of the yard. He committed a lone error in the field all year. At the plate he hit .348 and collected 23 hits.
Not to be out done, a trio of Bearcats were named second-team all-district. Senior outfielder and McLennan Community College commit Bryce McCain had a .975 fielding percentage and a .301 batting average for the season.
Senior right-handed starting pitcher Robert Burk went 6-1 in nine starts for Aledo this season. He struck out 21 batters and finished off his senior campaign with a 1.61 ERA. He plans to play baseball at Ranger College in the fall.
Luke Saunders rounds out the all-district players for the Bearcats. The junior right-hander threw 28.1 innings this season across 10 appearances. He ended the year with a 0.71 ERA, giving up just three earned runs all season.
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