Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Dallas-Fort Worth baseball teams might make rare state title bids
Back in 2008, we were talking about a baseball renaissance for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Waxahachie had finished as the runner-up in Class 4A, and Plano West and Southlake Carroll had met in a rare showcase of locals in the 5A championship.
The five-year stretch without an area baseball state champion, in any class of the University Interscholastic League, was over. The pendulum had finally swung toward North Texas.
But not for long. Kennedale’s 3A championship last year is the only UIL baseball title won by an area team in the last three seasons. The Dallas-Fort Worth area hasn’t had a finalist in 4A or 5A since 2008.
And you bring this up during the exciting stretch run of the playoffs? Thanks, Mr. Downer.
Well, let’s jump to a positive then.
Arlington Martin and Southlake Carroll will meet this week for the 5A Region I title, and Frisco Wakeland and Rockwall-Heath will face off for the 4A Region II title. It’s the first time in 10 years that area teams have met in both a 4A and a 5A regional final. Other teams a little farther away are also still in the playoffs: 3A Farmersville and 4A Cleburne. In the 2A bracket, Brock faces Sunnyvale this week.
Now back to the last 10 seasons of area baseball. Plano West, one of the best high school baseball teams I’ve ever seen, was the 5A champion in 2008. It’s the only area champ in 4A or 5A since Carroll won the 4A title in 2002.
By comparison, 13 area boys basketball teams have won 4A or 5A titles in the last 10 seasons. Football teams have won 18 titles in 4A and 5A, and although that number includes a Division I and Division II champion in each class, the difference is pretty remarkable. That’s why, about this time every year, people ask why the Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t have more baseball success.
The first reason is that, although North Texas has many talented players, South Texas has more. The Houston area has the deepest pool of select teams, and it shows in the state results. From 1994 through 2011, the Houston area had 11 champions in 5A. The Dallas area had one.
Another factor is that the competitive landscape is much broader in baseball. In football and basketball, the vast majority of championship-caliber teams in 4A and 5A come from four metro areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. But consider some of the areas that produced 5A baseball champions in the last 20 years:
Corpus Christi, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland and Round Rock.
Those areas have produced only a few big-school state contenders in football and basketball over the last two decades. But they have produced some fantastic baseball teams. Corpus Christi alone has sent 13 4A and 5A teams to the state tournament in the last 10 seasons and won five state titles. To that, you just have to bow down and say, “Well done.”
We can say the same thing to Carroll, Martin, Rockwall-Heath and Wakeland as they try to take the final step to state. If any of those teams wins a state title next week, it won’t be a surprise.
It might not be the start of a baseball renaissance, but it would be a nice step forward.
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