HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Odessa High turns to pitching for guiding light in 2018

The Odessa High Bronchos enjoyed a trip to the Class 6A baseball playoffs last season, but to repeat or exceed that will require the development of quality pitching.

The Bronchos return six starters from last year’s 18-15 campaign, which saw Odessa High finish fourth in District 2-6A at 8-7, but graduation claimed the top three pitchers.

“For us, that’s the most important thing, who’s going to fill those roles,” said Bronchos coach Joshua Hulin, who enters his fifth season leading the program. “As far as our team in general, I really like our guys. There’s just a lot of fundamentals about us.”

But, Hulin was quick to point out, it all starts with pitching.

“We’re really looking for guys to step up because that guy on the mound’s the most important one on the field,” he said. “They’ve been hearing it all fall and they’ll continue to hear it — that dude on the mound is the main attraction. Everybody else is just the sideshow.”

Whoever emerges on the pitching staff will have to rely on location and command, Hulin said.

“We don’t have anybody throwing hard,” he said. “No upper 80s. Maybe low 80s or touch mid-80s on a great day is the best we’ve got. We’re really upper-70s or low-80s. We’re just going to have to out-compete people.”

Headlining the list of returning players are first-team all-district selections Jacob Munoz and Tony Carrasco. Munoz, a center fielder batted .311 with 31 RBIs last year. Carrasco, a first baseman and pitcher, hit .291. Damien Aspeitia earned second-team honors after posting a 2.07 ERA.

While the Bronchos reached the postseason in 2017, Munoz said the team can’t be caught looking back.

“We’re not going to remember about last season,” he said. “We left that in the past. We’re going to work on this season, work as hard as we can and reach our goals this season.

“We’re going to try to make it to the playoffs this year, but not remember the past.”

Carrasco said the key to returning to the playoffs is simple.

“Hard work,” he said. “Everybody on this team works hard. If we keep that up, we’re going to do great things.”

Also returning are catcher Andres Martinez, second baseman Bo J. Martinez, third baseman Gibrian Martinez and shortstop Julian Jimenez. Also projected to start are Aspeitia in left field and Hervey Nieto in right field.

The defensive alignment could shift constantly as Munoz and Jimenez are the only the players on the roster not expected to see time on the mound.

One benefit for the Bronchos, Hulin said, is experience. Andres Martinez is a three-year letterman, while Carrasco was promoted to varsity as a freshman and started at shortstop in the playoffs. Munoz is also entering his fourth varsity season, and Aspeitia is another three-year letterman.

But to put it all together on the field, Hulin said, will take work.

“In order for us to have success, it’s the same thing every year,” he said. “We’re going to have to beat teams that have more talent than us. We’re not going to step on the field and beat somebody based on just our lineup. We’re going to have to outplay teams, and that starts in practice.

“We have to prepare better than anybody else. We’re going to have to show up and play better ball than teams that have more ability and probably plays more ball. We don’t have the summer-league travel kids here. Our advantage has got to be in the weight room and on the practice field. That’s the only way we have a chance.”

2018 Odessa High Baseball Schedule

Date   Opponent                Time        Site

Feb. 22               a-Abilene Wylie      9 a.m.      Shallowater

Feb. 22               a-Levelland             5:30 p.m.                Levelland

Feb. 23               a-Amarilo Caprock 11:30 a.m.                Lubbock Trinity

Feb. 24               a-Perryton              9 a.m.      Shallowater

Feb. 24               a-Lubbock Estacado              2 p.m.      Lubbock Estacado

Feb. 27               Pecos      4 p.m.      Pressly Field

March 1               b-Canyon Randall   4 p.m.      Pressly Field

March 2              b-El Paso Eastwood                10 a.m.    Pressly Field

March 2              b-Weatherford       1 p.m.       Pressly Field

March 3              b-El Paso Montwood               10 a.m.    Pressly Field

March 3              b-El Paso Franklin  2 p.m.      Pressly Field

March 6              Big Spring               4 p.m.      Pressly Field

March 8              c-Seminole              11:30 a.m.                Moffett Field

March 8              c-Andrews              4:30 p.m.                Moffett Field

March 9              c-Snyder 7 p.m.      Moffett Field

March 10            c-Shallowater         11:30 a.m.                Moffett Field

March 13            *Amarillo Tascosa 3 p.m.      Amarillo

March 15             *Wolforth Frenship                6 p.m.      Wolforth

March 17             *Midland High         Noon        Zachery Field

March 20           *Permian                4:30 p.m.                McCanlies Field

March 23           *Midland Lee          4:30 p.m.                Pressly Field

March 27            *Wolforth Frenship                4:30 p.m.                Pressly Field

March 29           *Wolforth Frenship                6 p.m.      Wolforth

April 3                *Midland High         4:30 p.m.                Pressly Field

April 6                *Midland High         4:30 p.m.                Zachery Field

April 13               *Amarillo Tascosa 4:30 p.m.                Pressly Field

April 14               *Amarillo Tascosa 11 a.m.     Pressly Field

April 17               *Permian                4:30 p.m.                Pressly Field

April 20              *Permian                4:30 p.m.                McCanlies Field

April 24              *Midland Lee          4:30 p.m.                Ernie Johnson Field

April 27              *Midland Lee          4:30 p.m.                Pressly Field

*-District 2-6A game; a-Shallowater Railyard Classic; b-Tournament of Champions; c-Best of the West Tournament, Snyder

2018 Odessa High Bronchos Baseball Roster

Number              Player     Position   Class

1          Charles McClure     OF/RHP   Jr.

2         Julian Jimenez       SS            Sr.

3         Andres Martinez     C/RHP     Sr.

4         Gibrian Pena           3B/RHP   So.

7         Michael Gonzalez    OF/LHP    Jr.

8         Bo J Martinez         2B/RHP   Sr.

9         Angel Rios               OF/RHP   So.

10        Cristian Baeza        3B/RHP   Jr.

13        Hervey Nieto          OF/RHP   So.

14        Damien Aspeitia     OF/LHP    Sr.

15        Jacob Munoz           OF            Sr.

17        Caleb Dutchover    1B/RHP    Jr.

20       Rowdy Abalos         1B/RHP    Sr.

21        Jordan Munoz         1B/RHP    Jr.

23       Bobby Salinas         C/RHP     Jr.

25       Tony Carrasco        1B/RHP    Sr.