Written by Matt Wixon
2013's stunning demise could still have payoff for Flower Mound
Flower Mound looks to early playoff exit as lesson to keep working
FLOWER MOUND — With an experienced senior class that includes six Division I signees, the Flower Mound baseball team expects a lot to go right this season. But the Jaguars, who are No. 3 in the Class 5A preseason state rankings, are also preparing for what might go wrong.
“So what? Next pitch.”
It’s a reminder to move on from a mistake and look ahead to the next opportunity. That’s what Flower Mound is doing as last season’s painful playoff exit looms in its rearview mirror.
Flower Mound was No. 1 in the area rankings and had a 20-game winning streak when it opened the playoffs. Three days and three games later, the season was over. Flower Mound lost to Hurst L.D. Bell in a best-of-3 series.
“We want to flush that away,” senior center fielder Connor Wanhanen said. “But we also keep it in the back of our minds that nothing’s going to be given to us, and we have to keep working.”
Last season’s ending hasn’t been forgotten, but Flower Mound isn’t using it as motivation. The motivation is to create better memories, and Flower Mound has the ingredients to do it.
Flower Mound’s pitching staff might be as deep as any in the area. The staff includes Kyle Johnston (Texas signee), Seth Jordan and B.J. Myers (West Virginia) and junior Sean Wymer. The four were a combined 23-3 last season and all had earned-run averages under 2.20. Jordan, who has pitched for the varsity since he was a freshman, was 9-0 last season with a 1.01 ERA.
“I don’t think you can ever have enough pitching,” Flower Mound coach Danny Wallace said.
That certainly seems true when teams take the field for a decisive game in a best-of-3 playoff series. After the reliable arms are worn out, things get out of hand quickly.
But producing runs is also important, and that was sometimes a problem for Flower Mound last season. The Jaguars managed a combined seven runs in the two losses to L.D. Bell in the playoffs.
Flower Mound should have more punch in its lineup this year, led by Wanhanen, a TCU signee who hit .443 with nine doubles and 24 RBIs as a junior. Third baseman Tim Millard (Dallas Baptist) hit .313 last year with four homers and 22 RBI, and catcher/first baseman Mitch Andrews (Sam Houston State) hit .281 with 21 RBIs. Junior catcher/second baseman Noah Hill (.313 last year) and junior shortstop Casey Jacobsen (.294) give Flower Mound more tough outs.
“I think we’ll be better offensively,” Wallace said. “With the pitching depth we have, if we’re able to score runs, then obviously you’re talking about a great combination.”
It’s a combination that should result in a lot of wins. And when the losses come, as they always do in a long baseball season, Flower Mound is prepared for the adversity.
The Jaguars will just look to the next pitch.
“We learn from our mistakes, and we move on through it,” Jordan said. “We’ve worked so hard to get where we are. We just can’t wait to go out there again and get some wins.”