Sports

Chapter 3: Baseball and Softball

EL PASO, TEXAS - ========================================

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The first Texas high school baseball championship was held in 1949. El Paso’s own Bowie High School beat very long odds to become the inaugural winner of the state tournament. El Paso teams didn’t do too well, with few exceptions, in the state playoffs until 2009 when Socorro High School became the city’s second school to win the title. Austin High School made the tournament field in 1954 and again in 1965 when the Panthers finished third in the state. Burges High School made the trip in 1983 and Coronado High School behind the pitching of Rocky Coppinger joined the ranks of El Paso teams to make the journey in 1992. Riverside High School would make a long tournament run in 2000 finishing 4th in the state. Socorro High School made the final 8 in 2006 and the final 16 in 2004, 2007, and 2008 before their magical year of 2009. The Ysleta High School Indians of 2008 and the Riverside Rangers of 2007 finished in the final 32 teams. El Paso Faith Christian Academy became the third El Paso area  high school baseball team to win a state title when they won the TCAL 3A Division I Championship in 2015 .

  The first Texas high school softball state championship was held in the 1992-1993 school year. Bel Air High School was 20-0 during the season and made the trip to Austin in the inaugural year of the tournament. The Highlanders would lose in their semi-final game. Bel Air would make a return trip in 1994 and finish 2nd in the state. El Paso teams have not done to well in the playoffs since 1994.  Bel Air High School made the sweet 16 in 1999 and Ysleta High School did the same in 1998 and 1999. No other El Paso team has made a serious run at the state championship.

The Champions

1949 Bowie High School:  Much has been said and written about the Bears of ’49 and their long, hard road to the first Texas high school baseball championship. Alexander Wolf wrote an excellent article called the Barrio Boys for the June 27th, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated in which he describes how Nemo Herrera took a group of poverty stricken young Mexican-American boys with seemingly no place to go and molded them into a championship baseball team. The article does a far better job than I can in describing the hardships that the team and their tough minded coach had to overcome to become champions. I recommend the article to anyone who wants to learn more about story of the ’49 Bears. You will re-live the era through the recollections of the surviving members of the baseball team. The article is available on the internet and is an inspirational story that would make a great movie. I will not try to tell the story again. Instead I will just give you the facts behind the games that led to the championship.

  William Carson “Nemo” Herrera came to El Paso in 1946 after having a very successful 18 years as a basketball coach at San Antonio’s Lanier High School. Herrera’s teams at Lanier won two state championships in basketball but the health of his wife and one of his young sons sent him to El Paso in search of a more hospitable climate. Herrera was hired to coach basketball at Bowie High School but his first love was baseball. He decided to set up a baseball program at the school and also organized a summer program for the neighborhood kids. It was in the years prior to 1949 that Herrera began to mold and shape the lives of the young men that would become his champions. He reminded his young players that it was not who they were or where they were from that mattered. It’s who you become that matters. Herrera was instilling a sense of pride in his charges. Members of the 1949 Bowie baseball team were:

1st base: Tony Lara, 2nd base: Andy Morales, 3rd base: Rocky Galarza, Shortstop: Gus Sambrano, Catcher: Ramon Camarillo, Right Field: Ernesto Guzman, Center Field: Fernie Gomez, Left Field: Jose Corona, Utility Player: Carlos Macias. The Bowie team also had a stable of five very good pitchers. Ruben Porras featured a curveball and was the Bears number one pitcher. Trini Gullien got batters out using a change up and Javier Holguin featured a knuckle-ball that would play a prominent role in the state championship game. The Bears also had two very good relief pitchers in Alfonso Lopez and Ruben Rodriguez. 

  Bowie had a very good baseball team in ’49. There weren’t many high schools in El Paso so the Bears played teams from Fort Bliss and Biggs Airfield to round out their schedule. They began their championship run with a best of three match-up with Lamesa, Texas. Bowie won the bi-district in just two games. The Bears won the first game 9-1 behind the three hit pitching performance of Ruben Porras. Trini Guillen shut out the Lamesa squad in the second game and the Bears won 8-0. Bowie’s trip to the bi-district was not all smooth sailing. The Bears ran into racial bigotry on the trip. The Barrio Boys tells a story where the team was not allowed to eat in the dining room of a restaurant and had to eat their meals in the kitchen.  This social injustice didn’t stop the Bears and it was on to Austin, Texas and the state championship playoffs.

  Eight teams were invited to Austin to play for the title. One Bowie player remarked that there were eight teams and the newspapers had the Bears ranked tenth. Bowie would again feel the blow of racial bigotry. The other seven teams were allowed to stay in hotels but Bowie was forced to pitch cots under the stands of the University of Texas’ football field, Memorial Stadium.  The Bears faced Stephenville in their quarter final match up. Bowie scored 3 runs on two hits in the first inning and behind the two hit pitching of Ruben Porras beat Stephenville 5-1. Next up was a semi-final matchup with Waco.

  The game with Waco was a classic by all accounts. The game went into extra innings and took well over three hours to play. Trini Guillen started the game for Bowie and had given up two runs by the fourth inning. Guillen had been ill and in the hospital prior to the trip to Austin so Ruben Porras was called on to replace him in the fourth inning. The game was tied 2-2 and Porras’ pitching sent the game to extra innings. Waco loaded the bases early in the extra inning affair and looked like they were on their way to a semi-final victory. Nemo Herrera must have had a great feel for the game. With the bases loaded, he yelled out, in Spanish, that Waco was going to try to steal home. Ruben Camarillo, the Bowie catcher, called for a pitchout and the Waco base runner was thrown out trying to steal home. Camarillo then threw out the runner at second base who was trying to steal third base. He wasn’t finished yet. Camarillo ended the inning by throwing out a Waco player trying to steal second base. The game remained tied until the 12th inning when Waco scored one run on a double and an error by Andy Morales. The Bears entered the bottom half of the 12th losing 3-2. Bowie wasn’t about to go down without swinging. Andy Morales made up for his error by getting the game winning hit driving in two of his teammates. The Bears won the game 4-3 and it was on to the championship game.

  Bowie’s opponent in the championship game was the local team, Stephen F. Austin High School. The Maroons were ranked #1 in the state and were unbeaten on the year. They featured a pitcher named Jack Brinkley who would later sign a $65,000 bonus to play with the Boston Braves. No one gave Bowie much of a chance as the Austin high school had outscored their bi-district opponent, Robstown, 36-1 in two games and beaten Denison 12-0 in their next round behind the one hit pitching of Brinkley. On top of all that, Bowie was out of pitching options. Guillen was still sick and Porras had already pitched 15 innings. Nemo Herrera asked his catcher who he should pitch in the final game. Camarillo said to pitch knuckleball pitcher, Javier “Lefty” Holguin, thinking that his pitch would stymie the Maroon players. It also seems that Camarillo had a dream where he saw Bowie winning the title with Holguin pitching. Nemo Herrera went with his young catcher’s suggestion and started Holguin stating that he didn’t have much of a choice. The Bears took an early 1-0 lead but Holguin walked two Austin players in the 4th inning. Coach Herrera decided to bring in his ace pitcher, Trini Gullien, to stop the rally. Bowie scored two more runs in the sixth inning on a single by Tony Lara that drove in Ernesto Guzman who had tripled earlier in the inning and another Bowie player who had reached base on an error. Bowie was now leading 3-0. Stephen F. Austin would score 2 runs in the final inning but the game ended with an infield ground out to the Bowie shortstop. The Bears had beat all odds and captured the very first Texas baseball championship by beating Stephen F. Austin 3-2.

  None of the surviving players can remember any kind of on field celebration. The Bowie players mirrored the demeanor of their coach, proud but not boastful. Bowie was given the championship trophy but apparently not by tournament officials. The Austin newspapers didn’t take the loss to kindly stating that Pancho Villa had come to town and stole the trophy. Racism was rearing its ugly head again. The Bowie bus was pelted by rocks on their return trip home and the Bears were refused dining privileges at a restaurant near Fort Stockton. The team bus was stopped by police as the Bears reached the El Paso County line, not for any violation but to let supporters put a championship banner on the outside of the bus. The team was then given a police escort into El Paso where the team was met by a huge crowd lining both sides of the street. One player remarked that there were even Anglos in the crowd. El Paso supporters had evidently been following the game by listening to updates given by Coach Herrera on KTSM radio. No local newspaper had made the trip to Austin to cover the tournament.

   Some of the Bowie players didn’t think that the city had given their accomplishments proper respect. It seems that an alderman, and not the mayor, met the team bus on its arrival from Austin. The minor league El Paso Texans did hold a Bowie Night as one of its promotions and the team attended several banquets.  Then everything was forgotten until Socorro High School won the state championship in 2009. The Bowie players openly rooted for the Bulldogs. There were newspaper articles and television interviews given by the Bears to support Socorro on their quest. The memories came back and the surviving Bears were honored by the newly crowned Socorro champions. The Bulldog team presented each of the surviving 1949 Bowie players with a championship ring. The Socorro team and their coach, Chris Forbes, wanted to remember the Bears. Andy Morales, the Bowie 2nd baseman, was Forbes’ baseball coach at Austin High School. Talk about everything coming around again!

On a sad note: Gus Sambrano, who played shortstop on the 1949 Bears team, recently passed away in January of 2014.

Sources: Ray Sanchez’s “The Good, The Bad, And the Funny of El Paso Sports History” and Alexander Wolf’s article “The Barrio Boys” in the June 27th,, 2011 edition of Sports Illustrated

 

2009 Socorro High School:  The Bulldogs began the 2008-2009 season with high expectations. Why wouldn’t they? They had finished the previous season with a sweet 16 performance and had at least 16 returning seniors. Socorro had great pitching. Bobby Mares, a right-hander, finished the season with an 11-1 record striking out 119 batters in 88 innings. Tavi Amparan had an 11-1 record with 85 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings. The Bulldogs had an excellent coach in Chris Forbes. Forbes retired after the Bulldogs championship year with a coaching record of 577-182 in 25 years and plenty of playoff experience. But most of all, Socorro had tremendous hitting. Senior infielder George Stoltz said, “Most of the teams we played had good hitters one through six in the batting order. We had them one through 10.” He later explained, “Even coming off the bench.”  The Bulldogs batting average for the 2008-2009 season was .406. Ivan Sigala, the number nine batter in the lineup, had an average of .440. Socorro’s catcher, Jessirey Navarette, had a team leading .509 batting average despite playing catcher and despite his 5’3” height. Teams constantly under estimated Navarette’s power. Teams would move their outfielders in when he was up at bat and he would just hit the ball over their heads. Socorro just had a lot of great hitters. The team had 74 homeruns and finished the season with a 35-4 record including scoring in double figures 22 times. The Bulldogs would finish the season ranked #5 in the ESPN Rise top 50 teams in the nation.

Socorro had little trouble in the regular season and then their magical playoff run began:

First Round: defeated Amarillo 8-1 and 9-4

Second Round: defeated Arlington Martin 7-6

Third Round: defeated Weatherford 3-6, 16-0, and 3-0. The first game against Weatherford would be Socorro’s only playoff loss

Fourth Round: defeated Flower Mound 4-1 and 3-1

Fifth Round: defeated Marcus 7-6 and 11-5

Semi-Final: Defeated Austin Westlake 11-3

Final: Defeated Lufkin 12-7.

Former Bowie ’49 championship player, Andy Morales, made the trip to Round Rock, Texas (outside of Austin) to support the Bulldogs and his former player, Chris Forbes. What he saw in the stands during the game with Westlake had to remind him of Bowie’s experience 60 years previously. Some in the Westlake crowd were waving Confederate flags, holding id cards implying that the Socorro players were not American, and shouting racial slurs. It’s a sad fact that racial bigotry still exists in parts of Texas and our nation. The Westlake game was decided when Cory Falvey hit a three run homerun. Falvey would hit two more homeruns against Lufkin including a grand slam. Just for good measure, he would hit another home run the next week in an All Star game. Falvey finished the season with 19 homeruns, 67 rbi’s and was named most valuable player at the state tournament. Joining Falvey on the All Tournament Team were Socorro teammates Tavi Amparan, Bobby Mares, Jessirey Navarette, and Aaron Olivas.

The Bulldogs returned to El Paso and more specifically Socorro, to great fanfare. A parade was held in their honor. The baseball field was re-named Chris Forbes Field in honor of their retiring coach and in 2012 a documentary film was made about their championship season. The Bulldogs also showed a lot of class after their return home. The surviving members of Bowie’s championship team had openly supported Socorro during their playoff run through newpaper articles and television interviews. Chris Forbes and the Bulldog players didn’t forget their championship counterparts. Each remaining member of the ’49 Bears was presented with a championship ring to celebrate El Paso’s only two state baseball champions.

Source: uiltexas.org, Ray Sanchez’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Funny of El Paso Sports History”, Jeff Miller (Freelance writer for ESPNRISE)

2017 Baseball and Softball Updates

Baseball
El Paso area schools usually hold their own against the rest of the state in baseball and have won two UIL state titles and several TCAL championships. Faith Christian had another great season that culminated in another TCAL 3A title. The 6A teams reached the state Regional Quarter Finals but the 5A representatives were all eliminated by the end of the Area round. The story was the same for the 4A area teams as all were ousted in the Bi-District round. The 3A teams and 2A squads also met the same fate.

6A Baseball
Montwood, Americas, Socorro, and El Dorado were the El Paso area's representatives in the 6A playoffs. Montwood and Socorro won their Bi-District matchups. Montwood defeated Odessas in two games 9-0 and 9-1 while Socorro beat Midland in three games 7-2; 8-3; and 3-1. Midland eliminated El Dorado in three games by scores of 4-5; 3-2; and 5-0. Frenship defeated Americas in their best of three series 3-0; 4-9; and 7-6.
Socorro defeated Amarillo in their Area round matchup in two games 4-0 and 7-6. Montwood defeated Weatherford in two games 2-1 and 8-1. Both teams would fall in the Regional Quarter Finals. Montwood lost to Fossil Ridge in their best of three matchup by scores of 10-1; 6-3; and 4-3. Socorro fell to Arlington Martin in two straight games 7-5 and 5-3.

5A Baseball
District 1-5A was dominated by Jefferson, Bowie, Andress, and Chapin while Eastlake, Parkland, Hanks, and Bel Air controlled 2-5A. Bi-District action saw Hanks beat Bowie in three games 2-1; 3-4; and 10-7; Parkland took Andress in two straight 4-0 and 9-2; Eastlake eliminated Chapin in two games 11-1 and 4-0; and Bel Air ousted Jefferson in three games 6-7; 2-1; and 11-1.
All four teams were ousted in the Area round. Lubbock beat Hanks 1-0 and 3-0; Amarillo defeated Parkland 8-1 and 7-1; Lubbock Cooper beat Eastlake in three games 2-0; 3-9; and 7-3; Randall eliminated Bel Air in two games 8-2 and 7-2.

4A Baseball
San Elizario, Fabens, Mountain View, and Clint were the 4A representatives. Unfortunately, all four were eliminated in the Bi-District stage. Monahans beat San Elizario 7-5 and 8-6; Andrews defeated Fabens 8-1 and 13-4; Pecos eliminated Mountain View 16-2 and 13-4; and Clint was beaten by Greenwood 22-2 and 9-4.

3A Baseball
Tornillo was defeated by Wall in their Bi-District game 10-6.

2A Baseball
Anthony had a bye in the Bi-District round but lost to Anson 15-0 and 15-0 in the Area round.
Fort Hancock lost to Forsan 9-0 and Van Horn was defeated by Hawley 7-0 and 8-5.

TAPPS and Private Schools Baseball
Faith Christian has become a dynasty in TCAL 3A baseball. Faith won its' third straight championship in 2017. You would be mistaken to disregard Faith as a legitimate baseball power in the El Paso area. They were 22-5-1 on the season and played some of the better teams in the city. Faith Christian dominated the TCAL playoffs winning three games by a combined score of 18-0. Faith beat Cristo Rey Jesuit 10-0, Mount Carmel 5-0, and Tomball Christian 3-0 in the championship game. Pablo Cortez was the winning pitcher in the title game giving up one hit and striking out 12 batters. He was 10-0 on the season.

Softball Update
Bel Air High School finished runner up in the first two seasons that the UIL recognized the sport in the early 1990's. It has been a long road for El Paso area teams in the softball playoffs every since with early exits being the norm. That has began to change in recent years. Coronado made it to the Regional Semi Finals in 6A softball this season. Chapin made it all the way to the 5A Division I Regional Finals before losing to Canyon. Eastlake advanced to the Regional Quarter Finals before falling to Chapin. Fabens made it to the Regional Quarter Finals in 4A softball while Alpine advanced to the 3A Regional Semi-Finals. Van Horn won its' 2A Bi-District game.

6A Softball
Coronado, Eastwood, El Dorado, and Montwood were the area's 6A representatives in the state softball playoffs. Coronado beat Permian 3-1 and 10-7 in a Bi-District match up. Other Bi-District play saw Odessa beat Eastwood 5-4 and 14-1; Frenship eliminated El Dorado 25-3 and 21-6; and Montwood was ousted by Midland 12-3 and 10-9.
Coronado beat Mansfield in a best of three series 5-4; 16-11; and 4-2 in the Area round. The Thunderbirds eliminated Timber Creek 3-2 and 13-4 in the Regional Quarter Finals. Coronado's great season came to an end in the Regional Semi Finals when they were defeated by Plano West in two straight games 10-1 and 10-1.

5A Softball
Chapin, Andress, Jefferson, and Burges represented District 1-5A in the state softball playoffs while Eastlake, Del Valle, Parkland, and Hanks were the playoff teams from District 2-5A. Bi-District action saw Chapin bet Hanks 15-5; Del Valle beat Jefferson 9-8; Parkland eliminated Andress 5-4; and Eastlake ousted Burges 20-1 and 23-7.
Area round action saw Del Valle lose to Lubbock Coronado 15-2; Canyon eliminated Parkland 10-0; East Lake defeated Randall 7-6 and 6-5; and Chapin defeated Lubbock Cooper in a best of three series by scores of 9-12; 10-0; and 11-0.

Chapin would defeat Eastlake in the Regional Quarter Finals 3-1 and 9-8 to advance to the Reginal Semi Finals.
Chapin then defeated Aledo 7-5 in the Regional Semi Finals.
Chapin's great season ended with a loss to Canyon in the Regional Finals in two games 5-2 and 13-2.

4A Softball
Fabens defeated Greenwood 5-4 and 7-6 in a Bi District matchup. Mountain View lost to Fort Stockton 19-0 while Monahans beat Clint 4-0 and San Elizario was beaten by Andrews 10-0.
Fabens beat Seminole in the Area round in two games 5-3 and 7-6.
Fort Stockton would eliminate Fabens in two games 10-1 and 17-6 in the Regional Quarter Finals.

3A Softball
Tornillo lost to Reagan County 11-1 and 26-9 in their Bi-District matchup. Alpine defeated Grape Creek 9-0 and then beat Roosevelt 5-2 and 18-8 in an Area round matchup.
Alpine would go on to defeat Idalou 7-3 and 11-0 in the Regional Quarter Finals before losing to Brock 12-10 in the Regional Semi Finals.

2A Softball
Van Horn defeated Tahoka 15-5 in a Bi-District match before losing to New Deal 6-4 and 14-3 in their Area round games. Anthony lost to Sundown 24-4 in a Bi-District game

2016 Baseball and Softball update

Faith Christian Academy was one of the El Paso area's best high school baseball teams during the 2016 season. The Lions finished the season with a 26-2 record and won its' second straight TCAL State Baseball Championship. Faith Christian lost two games during the regular season to Americas 6-5 and Coronado 7-5. The Lions played a tough schedule that included wins against Montwood, Bel Air, and Franklin. Faith Christian completely dominated its' competition at the state tournament. The Lions defeated Kings Academy 14-0 behind Rafael Rucobo's 5 inning 2 hit pitching performance.  Allen Academy would fall to the Lions the next day 5-2 behind the 7 inning complete game pitching performance of Pablo Gonzalez. Faith Christian defeated San Marcos Academy 7-0 in the title game and were paced by the 7 inning complete game, three hit pitching performance of Roberto Frayre. It was the second straight year that Faith Christian defeated San Marcos for the title. Pablo Gonzalez was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and Daniel Irigoyen was named to the All-Tournament team.


The public schools didn't fare as well as Faith Christian. All the state tournament playoff contenders from the El Paso area were eliminated by the Area round. The following is the breakdown of the various classification seasons:

6A: Americas, Coronado, Montwood, and Eastwood were the playoff representatives for the El Paso area in 6A baseball. Americas and Montwood were the only teams to advance to the Area round when the Trailblazers defeated Tascosa and the Ram beat Lubbock Coronado in bi-district play. Americas would fall to Fort Worth Paschal while Montwood was defeated by Midland Lee in the Area round of the playoffs.

5A: The playoff representatives from District 1-5A were Jefferson, El Paso High, Canutillo, and Bowie. Eastlake, Riverside, Hanks, and Horizon were the 2-5A playoff teams. Bi-district action saw Jefferson defeat Horizon, Hanks beat El Paso High, Riverside topped Canutillo, and Bowie was beaten by Eastlake. Unfortunately all the El Paso area representatives were defeated in the Area round. Hanks lost to Lubbock Cooper, Riverside was defeated by Canyon Randall, Canyon beat Eastlake, and Jefferson fell to Abilene Cooper.

4A:  San Elizario, Clint, Fabens, and Mountain View were the area's 4A representatives. All were eliminated in bi-district action. San Elizario lost to Andrews, Fort Stockton beat Clint, Monahans topped Fabens, and Mountain View was defeated by Greenwood.

2A: Anthony, Fort Hancock, Van Horn, and McCamey were the 2A representatives in the playoffs. Anthony and Fort Hancock fell to Forsan and Borden, respectively, in bi-district action. Van Horn beat Rotan and McCamey defeated Ira in bi-district play. Both would lose in the Area round. Van Horn fell to Stamford and McCamey lost to Albany.

2016 Softball Recap
El Paso area teams didn't fare any better in softball than they did in baseball. Most of the playoff teams were eliminated by the Area round except for Canutillo which reached the Regional Quarter Finals. The following is a breakdown on the various classifications:

6A: Montwood, Eastwood, El Dorado, and Franklin were the El Paso area's 6A playoff representatives. Eastwood was the only team to win a bi-district match up when the Troopers defeated Monterey.  Eastwood would lose to Midland in the Area round. Other bi-district action saw Montwood lose to Frenship, El Dorado was defeated by Lubbock Coronado, and Franklin lost to Amarillo.

5A: The 1-5A playoff representatives were Chapin, Canutillo, Andress, and Burges. The 2-5A playoff teams were Eastlake, Parkland, Bel Air, and Hanks. Bi-district action saw Canutillo beat Bel Air, Parkland defeated Andress, Eastlake topped Burges, and Chapin beat Hanks. Area playoff action saw Canutillo beat Lubbock Cooper while Parkland lost to Canyon, Randall defeated Eastlake, and Chapin was beaten by Lubbock. Canutillo was defeated by Canyon in the Regional Quarter Finals.

4A: San Elizario, Clint, Fabens, and Mountain View were the area playoff representatives from the 4A classification. Unfortunately all four were defeated in the bi-district stage of the tournament. San Elizario lost to Andrews, Clint was defeated by Monahans, Seminole topped Fabens, and Mountain View was beaten by Fort Stockton.

2A: Anthony was the area's playoff contender in 2A action. They would lose to Sundown in bi-district action.

2015 Update

El Paso Faith Christian wins TCAL 3A Title

El Paso Faith Christian Academy has been competing at the varsity level for only three years. 2015 was the year that they thought they could win a state title. Faith Christian played a very tough schedule going into the tournament and beat several El Paso area UIL teams like Franklin 1-0 and El Dorado 9-5. They also beat rival Cathedral High School three times during the season. The Lions made the trip to Houston, Texas where they would have to win three games in one day to become state champions. They did just that. Faith Christian defeated KIPP 10-0 in the first game of the day. The Lions next opponent was Cristo Rey Jesuit. Faith would win this game by a score of 16-0 to set up the state title game against Mount Carmel Academy. The outcome was never in doubt. Faith Christian destroyed Mount Carmel by a score of 16-0 and became the El Paso area’s latest baseball championship team joining the ranks with Bowie and Socorro. Faith Christian’s pitching was over powering during their three game playoff run. The Lion pitching staff gave up only two hits in three games and no hit Mount Carmel in the championship game. Pablo Gonzalez was named the tournament MVP. Gonzalez batted 475 for the tournament and pitched a shut out in the state championship game against Mount Carmel. Manuel Castro also had a strong tournament for the Lions. He batted .800 with 8 hits in 10 at bats to pace the Faith Christian attack.

 

 

Other El Paso Teams That Have Gone to the State Tournament

Five other teams from El Paso have made the trip to Austin, Texas to compete for the state championship. Austin High School joined seven other teams in 1954. The Panthers made a return trip in 1965 behind the pitching of Bob Arnold. Burges High School made the final four in 1983. Rocky Coppinger led the 1992 Coronado Thunderbirds to tournament. Riverside High School made the trip in 2000. Records are scarce but uiltexas.org does give the state tournament brackets as follows:

1954 Austin High School: The Panthers were one of eight teams to compete for the state title in 1954. The only information I can find is that Austin Travis defeated Dallas Highland Park 6-1 to win the state championship. I have to assume that El Paso Austin lost its opening round game.

1965 Austin High School: The Panthers behind the strong arm of Bob Arnold finished third in the state in 1965. Dallas Samuel beat Austin 2-0 in the semi-final game and eventually won the state final by beating Brownsville 14-0. Austin beat Galena in a consolation game but no score is listed. Bob Arnold went on to have a baseball career at Texas A&M and still holds a Texas single season strike out record of 249 k’s in a single season.

1983 Burges High School: The Mustangs lost their semi-final game to Corpus Christi Moody 4-1. Corpus Christi won the state championship when they defeated Port Arthur Jefferson 6-1.

1992 Coronado High School: The Thunderbirds rode the arm of Rocky Coppinger all the way to Austin, Texas to compete in the state championships. Coronado was defeated by eventual state champion Freeport Brazoswood who beat South San Antonio 5-1 to capture the title. Coppinger would go on to a major league career with the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers. He posted a 17-11 record in 32 starts before injuries ended his career.

2000 Riverside Rangers: The Rangers, 26-9 on the year, were defeated by Corpus Christi Calallen, 38-3, by a score of 10-0 in their semi- final game. Corpus Christi would go on to win the state championship by defeating Port Neches Grove 8-6.

Source: uiltexas.org

Other Teams to Make Playoff Runs

Several other teams from the El Paso area have made playoff runs in the last ten years. Socorro has been the most consistent program and has made five trips deep into the playoff including their state championship year of 2009. The Bulldogs finished in the sweet sixteen in 2004, 2007, and 2008. They also finished in the elite 8 in 2006. One former Bulldog player that I have yet to write about is Omar Quintanilla. Quintanilla graduated from Socorro and went on to have an All-American career at the University of Texas where he played on a national championship team in 2002. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s and has enjoyed a long professional career playing for several teams including the Texas Rangers, the Baltimore Orioles, and twice with the New York Mets. He is currently a free agent. Ysleta High School made the final 32 in 4A in 2008 as did Riverside High School in 2007. Fort Hancock made the final 32 in 1A in both 2007 and 2008.

2015 Baseball Update

It was another disappointing end to the season for the El Paso area 6A representatives in the Bi-District playoffs. Montwood was defeated by Lubbock Monterey, Americas lost to Lubbock Coronado, Franklin was defeated by Frenship, and Coronado was beaten by Amarillo. 5A Bi-District action saw Del Valle advance pass El Paso High, Burges defeated Ysleta, Hanks beat Canutillo, and Eastlake beat Chapin. The Area round is next up for Del Valle, Burges, Hanks, and Eastlake. The El Paso 4A representatives didn’t fare any better than their 6A counterparts. Clint was eliminated by Fort Stockton, Andrews beat Fabens, Pecos bested Mountain View, and Seminole defeated San Elizario.

Area Round

Burges, Hanks, Del Valle, and Eastlake  all entered the May 15th weekend with the opportunity to advance to the Regional Quarter Finals of the UIL State Baseball Tournament if they could win their Area round match ups. Unfortunately 3 of 4 of the El Paso area representatives were eliminated in their best of three series. Del Valle will be the last El Paso area team remaining in the playoffs.

Del Valle defeated Dumas in two straight games to sweep their series. The Conquistadors won Game 1 on Friday 6-2 and came back to win Saturday’s Game 2 by a score of 5-4. A Regional Quarter Final series against Canyon Randall is next up for Del Valle. Canyon Randall eliminated Hanks in a three game series.

Hanks won Friday’s Game 1 by a score of 11-0 and looked to be in good shape going into Saturday’s games. Unfortunately the Knights would drop two games to Randall by scores of 7-5 and 9-5 and were eliminated from the state tournament.

Burges and Eastlake were both swept out of the playoffs in two game sweep. Burges lost to Plainview 13-4 and 14-4. Eastlake was defeated by Canyon 2-1 and 4-3.

Regional Quarter Finals

Del Valle High School was on a high after defeating Dumas in the Area round of the 5A playoffs. They made a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the Canyon Randall High School in a Regional Quarter Final best of three series. The series got off to a bad start on Friday as Del Valle was defeated 12-3 in a game that was called early by the UIL’s run rule. The Conquistadors played better on Saturday but were defeated by Randall 8-5 and eliminated from the playoffs. 

 

 

2014 Baseball Update

  Bowie High School and Socorro High School will remain the only El Paso area high schools to win a state championship in baseball. El Dorado High School, Montwood High School, Franklin High School, and Americas High School represented El Paso in the 5A playoffs. Montwood, Franklin, and Americas all lost their Bi-District match ups. El Dorado was the only El Paso 5A team to advance past the Bi-District round. The Aztecs defeated Abilene but were defeated the following week by Carroll in the Area round.

  El Paso was represented in the 4A playoffs by Irvin High School, Del Valle High School, Ysleta High School, Chapin High School, Eastlake High School, El Paso High School, Burges High School, and Hank High School. Irvin, Ysleta, Eastlake, and Hanks won their Bi-District matchups but all lost the following week in the Area round of the state tournament.

Source: uiltexas.org

Softball

 

Final Four Finishes

 

The University Scholastic League first offered a championship in softball during the 1992-1993 season. Bel Air High School made an immediate impact on the tournament in its inaugural year. The Highlanders were 20-0 and represented the El Paso area in the playoffs. Bel Air had a bye in the first round of tournament and then defeated Weatherford 5-3 in a regional semi-final. The Lady Highlanders next beat Mansfield 7-1 in the regional final. Bel Air’s next opponent was Humble Kingwood who they defeated 1-0 to earn a trip to the state finals in Austin, Texas. The Highlanders would lose to eventual state champion Pasadena Dobie 10-2 in their state semi-final matchup. Pasadena would defeat Tomball 1-0 to capture the state championship. Bel Air’s Celina Estrada was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Bel Air finished the 1993-1994 season with a 25-4 record and would make another return to the state playoffs. The Highlanders defeated Abilene 10-3 in their bi-district matchup to advance to a regional semi-final matchup with Lewisville. Bel Air defeated Lewisville 9-2 and then beat Abilene Cooper 5-4 in the regional finals. Next up was a quarter final match up with Texas City. The Highlanders defeated Texas City 3-2 to earn a second consecutive trip to the state tournament. Bel Air’s opponent in the semi-finals was a 28-1 Waco Midway team. Bel Air defeated the Waco team 3-2 to set up a state championship title matchup with a 21-8 Angleton team. The Highlanders fell to Angleton 5-0 and finished 2nd in the state. Bonnie Contreras, Bernice Juarez, and Leslie Mata were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Source: uiltexas.org

 

Other Teams That Made a Run in the Playoffs

One might have concluded that El Paso area teams were going to dominate the annual state tournament playoffs after Bel Air’s strong performance in the first two years of the contest. Such has not been the case. I can only find three more years where an El Paso team has made a serious run at the title.

1998-1999 Bel Air High School: The Highlanders finished in the final 16 teams of the 5A division in 1999. Bel Air defeated Coronado High School 8-4 in a bi-district matchup. The Highlanders then defeated Lubbock Coronado 2-1 in the area round and Abilene 8-7 in the regional semi-finals. Bel Air’s championship hopes would come to an end with a loss to Haltom 5-0 in the regional finals.

1998-1999 Ysleta High School: The Indians made their second straight state playoff run and finished in the final 16 teams of the 4A division in 1999. Ysleta defeated Wolfforth Frenship 13-4 in an area matchup. The Indians then defeated Dumas 6-5 in regional semi-final before losing to Burkburnett 11-0 in the regional finals.

1997-1998 Ysleta High School: Ysleta finished in the final 16 teams of the 4A division in 1998. The Indians had a bye in the first round of the playoffs and defeated Andrews 2-1 in the regional quarter finals. Ysleta’s season would end in the regional finals with a 9-2 loss to Weatherford.

I cannot find any other team from the El Paso area that has made at least a final 16 finish since the 1999 season. Hopefully, a team from El Paso will make another trip to Austin, Texas to compete in the state tournament and maybe even win a state title in the next few years.

2015 Softball Update

El Paso will have one softball team to reach the Regional Semi-Finals as Hanks and Chapin have both advanced past the Area round and will play each other this weekend (May 15th-16th) on UTEP’s Helen of Troy Field. Other 2015 action saw:

El Dorado and Montwood were able to win their Bi-District matchups against Amarillo and Lubbock Monterey, respectively. Unfortunately the Area Round was not kind to the El Paso area representatives. The Aztecs lost to Arlington Martin and Montwood was defeated by Weatherford. El Paso’s other 6A representatives saw their seasons end in the Bi-District round. Eastwood was defeated by Frenship and Franklin lost to Lubbock. Hanks and Chapin will face each other in a Regional Quarter Final match up after advancing pass the Bi-District and Area rounds. Bi-District action saw Parkland beat Andress, Bel Air defeated Canutillo, Hanks bested Jeffersson, and Chapin defeated Eastlake. Area round softball saw Lubbock Cooper outlast Parkland, Canyon defeated Bel Air, Hanks beat Randall, and Chapin defeated Caprock. The El Paso 4A area representatives all saw their seasons come to an end. Fort Stockton beat San Elizario, Fabens lost to Andrews, Seminole beat Mountain View, and Clint lost to Greenwood.

Hanks Sweeps Chapin To Advance to the Regional Semis

Hanks High School and Chapin High School remained the only surviving El Paso area softball teams to reach the UIL Quarter Final stage and as luck would have it both squared off against each other in a best of three series at UTEP’s Helen of Troy Field to see which one would advance to the Regional Semi Finals. Hanks came into Friday’s game ranked #5 in the 5A rankings but Chapin had defeated the Lady Knights earlier in the season. Fans from both schools packed the Helen of Troy Field on both days to see which team would represent the El Paso area in the Semi Finals.  Chapin started the game like they were going to derail Hanks again as they scored five runs in the top of the first inning. Hanks responded by scoring 10 unanswered runs and went on to defeat Chapin 10-5 in the first game of the series. Game 2 saw Hanks jump out to a 5-0 lead but Chapin responded by scoring two earlier runs. Hanks would prove to be too much for the Lady Huskies and the Knights would go on to win game 2 by a score of 13-4 and sweep the Quarter Final series. Hanks takes on Azle in the Regional Semi Finals.

Hanks Season Comes to an End

Hanks High School went into the Memorial Day weekend with high hopes as the met the Azle Hornets in a best of three game series to see which team would advance to the Regonal Finals of the UIL 5A Softball playoffs. Unfortunately Hanks couldn’t stop Azle’s offensive power and the Knights were swept out of the playoffs in two straight games. Hanks dropped Friday’s game by a score of 14-3. Things didn’t improve much on Saturday as Azle beat Hanks 8-0. Hanks finishes it 2015 season with a record of 28-6 and school best playoff record.

2014 Softball Update

   El Paso area high school softball teams will have to wait another year to win a state championship. Montwood High School was the only 5A team to advance past the Bi-District round. The Rams defeated Odessa High School to capture a Bi-District title but lost to Keller in the Area round of the state playoffs. Other 5A representatives from El Paso were Franklin High School, El Dorado High School, and Bel Air High School.

  El Paso had 8 representatives in the 4A state playoffs. In Bi-District action: Canutillo High School defeated Andress High School; Parkland High School defeated Jefferson High School; Hanks High School defeated Burges High School; and Chapin High School defeated Eastlake High School. Canutillo, Parkland, and Hanks would all lose in the Area playoff round. Chapin defeated Plainview to capture an Area round championship but Huskies playoff run ended the following week with a Regional Quarter Final loss to Canyon Randall. 

Source: uiltexas.org

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