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.”
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
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.