Written by Corbett Smith
Flower Mound, FM Marcus baseball teams' history turns friendship into battle for state berth
There, in a single photograph, is the genesis of Flower Mound and Flower Mound Marcus’ recent baseball successes — the Flower Mound Warriors, a 12-member select team of 9-year-olds, posing in post-tournament triumph.
Nine of those players — Marcus’ Tyler Boertje, Romero Greer, Patrick Kmetz and Saxon Lumpp, and Flower Mound’s Noah Hill, Casey Jacobsen, Kyle Johnston, Austin Wagner and Sean Wymer — will take the field for their schools when they face off in a three-game series starting Friday, playing for the Class 5A Region I title and a trip to the UIL’s state tournament in Round Rock.
“We’ve all played together — as long as I can remember,” Greer said.
Familiarity has bred competition, and this mix of talent and tradition has pushed these programs to the brink of a state tournament appearance. The winner will be the first Lewisville ISD school to advance to state since Flower Mound made back-to-back appearances in 2003 and 2004.
It’s the Mound Showdown — on the grandest scale.
“The community is very wrapped up in it,” Flower Mound coach Danny Wallace said. “It’s all that they’ve talked about all week long.”
When Marcus coach Jeff Sherman and Wallace were hired in June 2012 (Sherman, a 1999 Marcus grad, from Frisco Centennial, and Wallace from Georgetown), both coaches knew the enormous potential of their programs.
“When I came up to visit about the job, the first place I went to was Bakersfield Park,” Wallace said. “I wanted to see what the youth leagues looked like. And Bakersfield — where most of our kids grew up playing baseball — those fields are nicer than most high school fields. So I knew right away that there was a level of support here.”
Tracy Black, the general manager and tournament director of the Flower Mound Youth Sports Association, estimates that there are 150 youth baseball and softball teams playing in the city’s leagues this summer.
“The organizations there, in select ball, are big,” Sherman said. “It’s a great place to be, great place to live — in that way, it’s a lot like Southlake. And the heritage of the sport within the community has always been there.”
And until the spring of 1999, Sherman’s senior season, that talent was funneled to a single high school.
Things changed with the opening of Flower Mound in 1999. Derek Matlock, now an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at West Virginia, started the program and took it to unparalleled heights in his five seasons. Flower Mound hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2002 and made the state final in 2004. Marcus, on the other hand, took a temporary dip, missing the playoffs from 2000 to 2004.
Both schools’ fortunes have stabilized in recent years. This is Marcus’ second trip to the regional final in six seasons (the other was in 2009). Despite a slew of collegiate talent — 13 Division I signees since 2010 — Flower Mound had two first-round playoff exits in three years before this season’s run. Flower Mound last made the regional final in 2008.
“What we’ve been telling ourselves all year is that we don’t want to be the typical Flower Mound team, with the reputation that we’ve had recently,” senior center fielder and TCU signee Connor Wanhanen said. “This has been so much fun, we’re never going to forget it. But … we want this more than anyone else in the world right now.”
The playoff series, to be played at McKinney Boyd after the coaches struggled to find a larger venue, should be closely fought. Marcus won two of three games against Flower Mound during district play, with all three decided by three runs or fewer.
“Normally, if you get this far and then you lose, you don’t have to see who you lost to go to state,” Wallace said. “But in this case, that team that beat you and kept you from going to state is going to be in your neighborhood 24/7. That makes it a little more intense.”