When trying to figure out what plagued the Guyer baseball team last season, it doesn’t require much examination.
Despite solid pitching and stellar defense — two edicts head coach Johnny Kinzy lives by — the Wildcats failed to make the playoffs in their second season at the Class 5A level, and it all came back to run production.
From time to time, the Wildcats would score runs in bunches, but then other times they struggled to push more than one across and the result was an early ending to the season.
When the Wildcats begin the 2013 season tonight against Arlington Lamar in the Lake Cities Tournament at Lewisville, they will be looking to remedy that problem from the get-go this season.
“In practice we work on the fundamentals — get them on, get them over and get them in,” said senior pitcher and third baseman Kyle Vochoska.
“We just want to hit line drives and hit it hard somewhere, and something good will happen. I think our hitting has picked up a lot.”
That will be key this year as the Wildcats make the move back down to Class 4A after two years at the state’s largest classification that ended with a first-round playoff exit in 2011 and a postseason absence in 2012.
The Wildcats return only three everyday starters from last year’s squad in No. 1 starting pitcher Jud Kinzy, shortstop Chris Monroe and center fielder Cole Wessling, and with the inexperience on the field, Johnny Kinzy said the increased run production will do nothing but help.
“The biggest factor for us is that we have to continue showing well offensively [after success in the preseason scrimmages],” said Kinzy, the only head coach in Guyer’s history. “It makes it a lot easier to field a groundball or catch a fly ball or throw low strikes when you’re ahead in the game, and that’s not a luxury we had last year.
“We pitched well and played really good defense, but it was always in pressure situations because we never had much run production.”
The main beneficiary of an offensive influx would be Kinzy’s son, Jud, who was an all-district pitcher last year after posting a 1.74 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 15 walks in 52 1/3 innings of work.
“I feel like we have a better attitude,” Jud Kinzy said of his team’s plate approach. “We’re not worried about stats. We’re worried about getting guys over and getting them in and just scoring runs and winning games.
“It definitely helps to have runs, but we had games last year where we’d get a bunch of runs and it doesn’t change my job. My job is to go out and eliminate the big inning and throw strikes. It always helps to have more runs, but it doesn’t change what I have to do out there.”
Who will join Jud Kinzy in the starting rotation is up in the air as junior Kyle Cantu was slated to be the No. 2 starter before being shelved for six weeks due to elbow trouble.
That leaves Vochoska, who has two years of experience as a reliever and spot starter, along with varsity newcomers Daulton Horton and Chase Tackman.
Whoever gets the nod, Jud Kinzy said he has confidence that his rotation mates will be highly capable.
“I’m not really approaching it any differently [after Cantu’s injury],” Kinzy said. “We have a bunch of guys that can come in and fill that role. I also feel like our hitting is a lot better. With our defense, you just have to throw strikes. I don’t feel any pressure going out there and being No. 1.”
As for the move down to 4A, Jud Kinzy said he expects to still see plenty of good competition and probably a little bit of extra fire in the collective bellies of opponents to knock off the Wildcats.
“I feel like we always have that target on us being Denton Guyer with our football background,” he said. “People look for us and coming down from 5A, they definitely want to beat us. I feel like it doesn’t change our job. Our job is to get a state championship.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
2013 GUYER ROSTER
Head coach: Johnny Kinzy
Assistant coaches: Spencer McFarling, Curt Sprabeary, Mike Weatherford, Jeff Grindle