Not many Class 1A baseball teams would be able to overcome serious injuries to two starters and the transfer of another.
Shiner's Ryan Kloesel has hit four home runs and driven in 29 runs to help lead the Comanches into tonight's bi-district game against Fayetteville. Miguel Luna, Advocate Staff Photographer
But Shiner has not only prospered, it has put itself in position to make a run at its second state championship in three years.
The Comanches (22-3) look to take the first step toward the state tournament when they meet Fayetteville (12-9) today at 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park's Strickland Field in Weimar.
"I told our kids this is the fun time of the year," Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker said. "A lot of teams don't get this opportunity. I told them to take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy it. We need to play each game to the best of our ability."
Shiner had only to recall the 2003 season to understand nothing would be guaranteed because of last year. The Comanches won the state championship in 2002 but failed to reach the playoffs the next season.
After winning last year's state title, Shiner began this season without Russell Boothe, who hit a home run in last year's state final before transferring to Wimberley, along with his brother, Jack. The Comanches also began the season without pitcher Dylan Hagens and third baseman Jared Boedeker, who were injured during the football season.
"There's no doubt we missed them," Daniel Boedeker said. "But we got to get three or four different players some experience. We were trying to find people to play. We were able to get some guys some at-bats we normally wouldn't have."
While Shiner has gotten solid performances from returning starters Chris Baer, Scott Shimek, and Chase O'Connor, other players have emerged during the Comanches drive to the District 30-1A title.
Shortstop Ryan Kloesel leads the team in average (.391), triples (5), doubles (10), and RBIs (29), and shares the team lead in home runs (4) with Shimek.
"Ryan has been hitting the ball consistently from Game 1," Boedeker said. "He's never been in a slump. He was our No. 9 hitter last year. He's always put the ball in play and had good speed. But his slugging percentage (.855) has really picked up. He's been a key for our offense."
Shimek, who has 173 strikeouts in 57 innings, will be the starting pitcher against Fayetteville. The Lions were the runners-up behind Flatonia in District 29-1A.
"They're a very scrappy team," Boedeker said. "They do a good job of putting the ball in play and playing good defense."
Boedeker knows from experience the keys to winning a state championship are good pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting.
"Coming into the year, we had some concerns," Boedeker said. "But other kids have stepped into a role. They've done a good job for us."
The Shiner-Fayetteville winner will meet the winner of Wednesday night's game between Benavides and Kingsville Academy in the area playoffs.