The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
The playoffs are upon us and we have lots and lots of notes about the history of the Mid-County schools in the playoffs.
We already told you about the Port Neches-Groves softball team making the playoffs every season since 1997. Well, their baseball counterparts have also made the playoffs every year since dropping down to Class 4A, and have made the playoffs in 18 of the last 19 seasons past that.
What’s more, since 1993, when softball became a santioned UIL sport, there has never been a season where all four Mid-County baseball and softball programs have been shut out of the playoffs. The closest they came was in 1993, when PN-G softball was the lone playoff representative of the four.
Oh, and there’s plenty more of historical goodness. For instance, the Nederland baseball team hasn’t lost its first playoff matchup. Ever.
(Or since 1988, which is as far back as the UIL playoff archives go).
Nederland has won 13 different first-round series, including eight bidistrict matchups, and five more area round matchups after receiving a bye for winning the district title. Since 1994, the Bulldogs made the regional quarterfinals four times, the regional finals twice and the state semifinals three more times.
PN-G baseball has lost in the bidistrict round five times since 1994, with the last time coming in 2007 when the Indians fell to Huffman Hargrave. Over a similar stretch of years as Nederland, the Indians have made the state finals once (2000), the state semifinals once (2004), the regional semifinals once (2010) and the regional quarterfinals once (2008).
The Nederland softball team has been equally good at extending its playoff runs, winning its first series in all but three of its 13 trips to the postseason in program history. The last time it happened was in 2005, when Nederland won the district title, earning a bye in bidistrict play. However, Montgomery beat them in the area round. The Lady Bulldogs last lost in bidistrict was in 2002, when they fell to Jasper. The only other time it happened was in 1995 to Class 5A Houston Austin.
The Lady Bulldogs had made at least the regional quarterfinals every season from 2007 until last year, when they lost to a Montgomery team which went on to the Region III finals. Montgomery has beaten Nederland both times the two schools have met in the playoffs, including last year and in 2005.
One last note about playoff series length. The Nederland baseball team has gone 15-5 in a one-game series since 1994. That includes a four-game winning streak since falling to Corpus Christi Calallen in the state semifinals in 1998. Of those five one-game series losses, three came in the state tournament. The last time Nederland dropped a one-game series outside of the state tournament was in 1996 to Carthage in the area round of the playoffs.
The PN-G baseball team is 4-4 over that same stretch, having not won a one-game series since 2000 when it beat Arlington Heights in the state semifinals. The last time PN-G won a one-game series outside the state tourney was in 1998 when the Indians beat Hardin-Jefferson in bidistrict play.
Former PN-G softballer honored by college conference
Trinity University freshman catcher Caitlynn Dykes had a pretty big week, picking up a couple pieces of hardware in the process.
Dykes was named Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference last week. The freshman shared the Offensive POY award with two other players, but is the first freshman to ever earn both awards in the same season.
The former PN-G catcher led the conference in RBIs with 41 and came in second in on-base percentage at .474. She also tied for second in runs scored (34), was third in hits (51), tied for fourth in home runs (5) and was fifth in slugging percentage (.630).
She also helped her team to its first division title since 2007, so all that production at the plate paid plenty of dividends for her team.
Congratulations to Dykes and here’s to hoping she can continue a very fine start to her collegiate career.
Can Nelson three-peat?
Speaking of postseason awards, there’s going to be a fascinating subplot taking place in District 20-4A now that the regular season has ended. Will senior Jayce Nelson be named to the district’s first team or superlatives?
The reason that would be significant is that Nelson was also honored thusly in both baseball and basketball this season, meaning he would make a clean sweep of all three sports on the first team or higher.
I’ve asked multiple people over the last few weeks to see if they can remember the last boys athlete from this area who might have accomplished the feat, but no one could come up with any names. In this day and age of AAU teams and select travel squads, it’s rare indeed for a player to excel at all three sports at the same time.
I may be jinxing things by even talking about it, but it appears Nelson is on the cusp of doing something pretty special as he wraps up his senior year at PN-G.
If you know of anyone who might have equaled that feat in the past, please e-mail me and let me know. Researching coaching and playoff records is relatively easy compared to tracking down all-district squads, which is nigh impossible.
Brown’s draft prospects
As you may have seen last summer, in addition to writing for The News, I also write about the Astros for a website called The Crawfish Boxes. As part of that, we hit the draft pretty hard every season, so I’ve become quite familiar with scouting reports and what scouts are looking for.
Though he may not hear his name called in June, I have to think Nederland’s Brett Brown should be taken by some enterprising team. At this point, it’s too late in the process for me to stump very hard and get him into the first round, but I do think Brown should be considered for one big reason.
Later this week, I’ve got an article on Brown coming out that talks about his pitching repertoire. His slider is the biggest reason why I’d advocate taking a shot on him, because it’s a pitch he can locate and that he can get swings and misses with.
In talking with Nederland head coach Cody Robbins about Brown and his incredible strikeout total (153 and counting), the name he’s brought up multiple times is Kirby Bellow, the sophomore left-hander at the University of Texas.
Bellow was coincidentally the last high school player drafted out of the Golden Triangle, getting tabbed by the Cleveland Indians in the 29th round in 2010. Only two other guys have been taken in the draft in the last 10 years. West Brook’s Jay Bruce was picked by the Reds in the first round of 2005 while Bridge City’s Kevin Angelle was taken in the 13th round by the Rangers in 2006.
Will Brown be added to that list? At this point, I think it’s far likelier that he gets picked after spending a few years at Lamar. But, some enterprising team could do worse than taking a chance on the Nederland right-hander.
David Coleman is a high school sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. You can reach him at dcoleman@panews and on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.