Loaded Pitching Staff Keeps No. 2 Wall Eyeing Flawless Season
WALL, TX -- Lofty goals and expectations are nothing new at Wall High School. Yet, executing them sometimes comes with a few bumps along the way.
So far, that’s not the case for the second-ranked Wall Hawks.
They have won all 22 of their games this season, including a spotless run through tournament play, something that doesn’t usually happen for Wall due to a combination of quality opponents and a high amount of games in such a short time.
This hot start stems from Wall’s appearance in the state championship two years ago and their loss to Brock in the regional semifinals last year.
“They have the goals they set for themselves,” Wall head coach Jason Schniers said following Wall’s 12-2 win over Brady on Tuesday. “I think a lot of that goes back to two years ago [at state], being so close to that state championship. A lot of these guys were contributors to that team and came up a game short.
“Last year, losing to Brock in the [regional] semis, they felt like we were better than what we put up against Brock. You’ve still gotta hand it to Brock. They came out and took care of us and did what they were supposed to do. But we didn’t feel like we gave them our very best shot last year. These guys are hungry. We have a really good team.”
Wall’s unbeaten run through the first three quarters of the season has been marked by pitching. The Hawks have a true five-man rotation consisting of Sutton Hurst, Luke Young, Jake Jansa, Caleb Heuertz and Ryan Gully they can utilize, unlike some of their past years. The Hawks also have a stable of relief pitchers they can turn to when need be.
Gully, coming back from Tommy John surgery, has had a limited role on the mound for the Hawks so far. The Weatherford College-bound senior has thrown a grand total of five shutout innings and allowed three hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts.
He hasn’t necessarily been needed on the bump considering the emergence of Luke Young, who has racked up 26 strikeouts in his last three starts. Half of them came in Wall’s 7-0 win over Bushland on March 8 at the Snyder Tournament.
However, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches for the Hawks with so many pitchers and not as many games for the pitching staff to get live reps.
“We’ve always had that guy or two guys that can go out,” Schniers said. “When we played in our tournaments -- we’ve never gone undefeated during our tournament season because we don’t have a true four- or five-man rotation at this level. [Now] we do. It’s kinda hard now, playing two games a week, keeping my guys fine tuned on the mound. It’s hard to find everyone that time on the mound they need to get their work.”
But the Hawks’ pitching has also led to confidence at the plate. Wall has won six of their seven district games via the run rule and are outscoring their district opponents 97-4. The only game that hasn’t finished early was their March 22 trip to Reagan County, who they beat 4-1.
“It comes back to baseball is a game of failure,” Schniers said. “We had situations [against Brady] where we had guys on second and third and Ryan [Gully] strikes out … But Tanner picks him up with the home run.
“We’ve got guys coming off the bench and contributing as pinch hitters, things like that. I never feel like we’re in a situation where we’re in a bind because we have nine guys plus guys on the bench who can come off and contribute. They all contribute in one way or another. It takes that to be where we’re at right now, undefeated.”
Being in this spot is new territory for Wall, too. They haven’t had a legitimate shot this late in the year to finish the season unbeaten.
“We’ve never been in a situation at this point in the year to say ‘We’re gonna have an undefeated season through district.’ We’ve got a great chance at doing that,” Schniers said.
With that comes a bigger target on the back of the Hawks. That means they have to pay attention to even the slightest of details. Sometimes that’s easier said than done
“It’s hard. It’s very hard,” Schniers said. “Especially when we are putting up the runs that we do. We’re playing a lot of five inning games just because of the success we’ve been having. But you can’t come into the game thinking it’s gonna happen every time. The district is gonna compete hard against you and everyone like to beat us. We have that big target of who’s gonna try to take away our perfect record. So, that’s what we teach and talk about with our kids every time they step on the field.”
Wall (22-0, 7-0) will travel to Sonora for an 11:00 a.m. matinee this Saturday.
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